Men perform under pressure

Volleyball men make it 3-0, women drop to 0-3

The women’s volleyball warms up before their match against the University of Toronto.
The women’s volleyball warms up before their match against the University of Toronto.
Ciara Ward

The men’s volleyball team improved its record to 3-0 at home last weekend, but the women’s record fell to 0-3.

The men defeated the University of Toronto Varsity Blues in five sets in Bartlett Gym Saturday night.
Head coach Brenda Willis said her reaction to her team’s performance was two-sided. She said she was disappointed that, after being up two sets, the Gaels relaxed enough to let Toronto back into the match. “But on the flipside I was very pleased to see us regain our composure after losing two in a row,” she said.

She said the team has been working on helping each other keep intensity up during games and simulating pressure situations in practice. “We kept talking [after thesecond set] about how these guys aren’t just going to roll over and die, but talk can be cheap,” shesaid. “We’re spending time trying to become a team that dictates the style of play.” The Gaels led 2-0 going into the third set, and Willis said the team lost its sense of urgency.

“In both sets we were leading by quite a bit then we let up and let them back in.” She said the Blues really stepped up their game when their backs were against the wall and the men lost the third and fourth sets 25-22 and 29-27. “We were up 23-18 in the fourth [set] and we should have finished it,” Willis said. With the pressure on in the tiebreak, the men took control, leading 8-4 at the changeover and winning 15-9. Willis said she was impressed by the visiting team.

“I give a lot of credit to Toronto. They made some spectacular plays.”

Unfortunately the women’s team didn’t fare as well. They opened the weekend with a five-set loss to the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees, but co-captain Brianna Marchildon said the team was pleased with their performance despite the outcome. “There was so much energy and focus on the court you could feel it from everyone.” She said that, with another two games this weekend, the biggest challenge is to learn how to carry that intensity through more than one game.

Marchildon said the women are working with a mental skills coach to try to figure out what is working and what isn’t. She said she doesn’t think the number of games played is a factor.

“I don’t think endurance is our problem,” she says. “We have to find a way to push ourselves to play well all weekend.” The women went flat against Toronto on Saturday, going down in straight sets.

The Gaels also lost 3-0 to Toronto two weeks ago at York, but Marchildon said the women expected better of themselves the second time around. “This time we were a little more disappointed with our performance than we were last time just because we played so well against Ottawa.” The women’s team defeated both Guelph and McMaster in the pre-season by scores of 3-2 and 3- 1, respectively.
The Queen’s men beat McMaster in the semifinals of the playoffs last year and though the Gaels lost to McMaster in four sets in the pre-season, Willis said fatigue after having played until midnight the night before was a major factor. She said home court advantage and a strong Queen’s crowd will be great assets for the Gaels. “I’ve always said it’s as good as having another player on the court.”

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