Volleyball starts strong

Men beat Windsor 3-1 and Western 3-0 at home

Players congratulate each other after a point against Western.
Players congratulate each other after a point against Western.
Gloria Bell

The men’s volleyball team opened its season last Friday with a four-set win over the Windsor Lancers at home in Bartlett Gym.

Defence was the name of the game as both sides struggled to find a good offensive rhythm.

The two teams split the first two sets, but the Gaels took the final two to win the match 25-20, 24- 26, 25-15, 25-20. Throughout the third and fourth sets Queen’s got a little better and Windsor got a little worse and the Gaels came away with a 3-1 win. Power hitter Jeff DeMeza led the offence with 16 kills while power hitter Luke Lichty and Nick Gralewicz had 12 apiece. Lichty led the defence with 11 digs.
Head coach Brenda Willis said the team knew things would have to change before they faced
Western the next day.

“When we can play at 70 per cent and win it doesn’t feel good,” she said. “We should be setting
the tone.” And so they did, taking down the Western Mustangs in three sets on Saturday evening.

Willis said the difference between the two games was likely that the Gaels didn’t take their first opponent seriously enough.

“Based on history, my team went into the [first] game confident they weren’t going to lose,” she
said. “When you have that level of comfort, you can’t bring the same urgency and intensity.”

She said she told the team afterward that good teams play well no matter the level of their opponent and they needed to bring the same attitude into every game. It was evident from the first serve that the men took the lesson to heart. Willis said she was pleased with the turnaround.

“[Setter] Devon [Miller] ran a spectacular offence. They didn’t know where the ball was going ever,” she said. The Gaels’ two most experienced players, Andrew Bridgeman and Steve Willis, are both still ut with back injuries but coach Willis said the Gaels’ success without them so far this season is a estament to the team’s depth. She said Nick Gralewicz and Chris Vandyk have done a great job taking over the roles of starting middle hitters and Stu Hamilton is excelling at libero. The libero is a passing and defensive specialist who plays only in the back row. “It speaks well of the future because they are the only two players leaving next year.” The Gaels took the first two sets 25-23.

The Gaels were weak on the block but Lichty and Hamilton both came up with several big digs to keep the Gaels in the point. Lichty had a game high 16 digs. One of the best rallies of the match came at 19-17 and, unlike the day before, both teams showed composure and good decision making. The teams traded points until 22-21 when Queen’s put the set away with two kills and an ace.

The third and final set was a short one. An apparently frustrated Western squad got sloppier and
Queen’s was quick to capitalize. They won the set 25-19. DeMeza led the offence with another 16 kills and Lichty followed with 10. Willis said that the team has been cutting down on service errors but they still need to improve. “Our goal is to wash errors.” Next weekend Queen’s plays at home against the University of Toronto. The Gaels have not yet seen the Varsity Blues this season but Hamilton said it will be a good opportunity to test their ability to maintain the intensity they showed against Western.

“We need to set a standard of play that we need to meet to win and do that every game,” he said.
“It’s all mental … It’s just a good way to start back at zero.”

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