Volleyball proud of playoff push

Hamill named OUA Rookie of the Year

For the first time in three years, the women’s volleyball team ended its season in the playoffs. The Gaels lost 3-1 to the University of Toronto’s Varsity Blues in Toronto on Feb. 16 in the first round ofplayoffs. Despite the loss, the consensus within the team was that the season was a success. This was the first time in more than two years that the women won a set against the Blues.

“When we had played them in the regular season, we were even with them in most of the sets that we played, and then Toronto would put on a push and we didn’t answer,” head coach Chris Galbraith said. “This time, we had realized going in we were capable of competing with them and we did a real good job of doing so.”

The Gaels finished their season 8-11, with six of their eight wins coming during the last two months
of the season. “I know that it started a little bit slowly, but by the end, I thought we had built up quite a bit of momentum,” Galbraith said. “I thought the kids had come a long way and we were playing very well, so generally [I’m] very happy.” Galbraith said one thing that surprised him this year was how well the rookies played. “Louise Hamill had an outstanding year,” he said. “I knew when she came in she was going to be good; I didn’t know she was going to be that good.” Hamill was named OUA Rookie of the Year last week. “I think I was just really lucky,” she said. “Lucky enough to walk in
and have a starting spot open up, so I attribute it a lot to the amount of playing time I got.
“I wouldn’t be rookie of the year without amazing setting and amazing passing for the setter.”

Hamill said making up for this year’s player turnover will be a challenge next year, but one the team can handle. “Next year we’re going to be a really young team, but I think with the rookies that we have and the second- and third-years that are remaining, we’re going to be pretty set,” she said.

Galbraith said he was also impressed with veteran captain Amanda Digel’s performance this year.
This year, she ranked sixth in the province and 12th in the country in points per game. “She’s always been really solid offensively, really solid defensively. What I was really impressed with this year was her leadership,” Galbraith said. “She did a great job, there.” Galbraith said it’ll be a challenge replacing the five players graduating this year, of which Digel is one. “She’s scoring, I think, four points a game, and somewhere someone’s going to have to pick up that slack,” he said. “That’s definitely a big hole to fill so we’re recruiting like mad and hopefully we’ll be able to fill the void.” Despite the team’s less than stellar start, Digel said she thinks this season turned into a great one. “We didn’t start off all that great, but we learned so much in the first semester we were able to come back in the second semester and start winning games,” she said.

“Last year we had a very bare-bones team; we didn’t have the opportunity to recruit anybody with the coach change, and I think that we just weren’t good enough to make the playoffs—I think our chemistry was all wrong,” she said.

“[This year] we deserved to win.”

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