Rival Rams hand volleyball first loss

Men beat York, lose to Ryerson; head into winter break with 8-1 record

The men’s volleyball team closed the first half of its season last weekend in Toronto, beating York but losing in five sets to the Ryerson Rams.

The weekend’s games bring the Gaels record to 8-1

Queen’s opened the weekend on Saturday against York, defeating the Lions in straight sets.

The Gaels went into the game expecting a tough game but found the squad significantly depleted by injuries.

Gaels’ head coach Brenda Willis said she took advantage of the opportunity to rest some of her starting line-up and get more players in the game.

“[We did it] so we could maintain our depth but more importantly, so we wouldn’t fatigue our starting players.”

The starting lineup opened the game but eleven different players got time on the court throughout the match.

“Luke Lichty was outstanding against York,” Willis said. “He was matched up with Ryan Anderson and he’s always tough to beat. [Lichty] handled him beautifully.”

Anderson, one of York’s top power hitters and third in the province in points per game, finished with negative offence, posting seven kills and nine errors.

Lichty led the Gaels with nine kills and five blocks.

“We just kept the focus on our side of the net and executed what we needed to,” he said.

On Sunday, the Gaels faced rivals the Ryerson Rams, who posed a much greater challenge for the men.

The teams alternated sets until Ryerson finished off the match with a 15-12 win in the tiebreak set.

Lichty once again led the offence with 17 kills while right-side hitter Dan McCrae followed with 16.

Libero Stu Hamilton led the defence with 10 digs.

Lichty was matched up with the Rams’ 6’10” power hitter, Ryan Vandenburg.

He said that, having played Vandenburg several times before, he knew what to expect and trusted the Gaels’ game plan.

“In my head I have to recognize that he’s a good player he’s going to get his share of kills,” Lichty said. “You can’t get discouraged when that happens.”

He said Ryerson relies heavily on Vandenburg’s skill so the Gaels focused their game plan on neutralizing him.

Sunday’s meeting was the fifth time the two teams have played each other this season. The Gaels won the previous match in the final of the Queen’s Invitational tournament in October. After Sunday’s match, the Rams the lead the series 3-2.

“It’s going to be a war with them all year, and we knew it would be,” Willis said.

The Gaels now have more than a month off to prepare for December’s CIS Down South tournament in Florida after Christmas. The event is run by McMaster, and the Gaels will compete in a group of four teams with the University of Manitoba, Sherbrooke and California’s Pepperdine University.

“I guess the biggest thing will be to use those matches to get competition ready again.”

When they get back from Florida, the Gaels will head straight to Toronto for the York Invitational tournament.

She said she’s proud of her team’s performance to date.

“We’re quite happy with an 8-1 record,” she said. “I think if you go undefeated into the [mid-season] break it’s really easy to get cocky and comfortable and even complacent,” she said. “We’re going to go in and work.”

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