Men’s volleyball team moves to 3-0

Women lose to defending OUA champions

Gaels’ right-side hitter Lisa Cooke blocks an Ottawa attacker in Friday’s game.
Gaels’ right-side hitter Lisa Cooke blocks an Ottawa attacker in Friday’s game.
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Despite a raucous home crowd, the men’s volleyball team came away from the Royal Military College Friday night with a victory in three straight sets over the RMC Paladins. The Paladins’ supporters came equipped to intimidate the Gaels with an array of cowbells, airhorns, chants and other noisemakers, but their efforts were in vain as Queen’s prevailed 25-16, 29-27 and 27-25.

Head coach Brenda Willis said the team was prepared to deal with the atmosphere.

“We talked a lot about staying in our own zone,” she said. “I thought the RMC crowd got a little bit unsportsmanlike at times, and the ref had to actually intervene, which is unfortunate.”

Rookie middle hitter Michael Amoroso said the fans’ noise made the game challenging.

“It’s definitely not something I’m used to,” he said. “I felt that at times they got in my headspace, but we’re going to be able to deal with it.”

Outside hitter Dan McCrae said the environment fired him up for the game.

“I love every minute of it,” he said. “I like it when people are yelling: who doesn’t?”

It was a different-looking Gaels’ starting lineup that took the floor against the Paladins, with third-year outside hitter Garth Smith, Amoroso and rookie setter Dan Rosenbaum all starting for the first time this season.

Willis said she was impressed with the rookies’ play.

“We’re playing a lot of different guys,” she said. “That was Dan Rosenbaum and Mike Amoroso’s first career start, and physically they both did well. I thought that Dan ran a very good offence for the first match of his career. It definitely speaks well for our depth and our future.”

Queen’s came out flying in the first set, jumping out to a 16-8 lead off strong serving from Rosenbaum and solid spikes from fourth-year outside hitter Jeff DeMeza, who’s fifth in the OUA in kills. RMC was able to narrow the lead to 20-16, but the Gaels won the next five points to take the set.

In the second set, the score went back and forth. Neither team was able to string together successive points to win until the Gaels took a 28-27 lead courtesy of a DeMeza hit. Amoroso was then substituted back into the game and continued his strong outing, winning the set with a solo block.

RMC held the lead for most of the third set, but Queen’s kept the score close throughout. The Gaels took their first lead of the set late in the game with a big kill from outside hitter Dan McCrae that made the score 23-22. With the game tied at 25 points apiece, but Amoroso recorded another big kill and combined with Rosenbaum for a block to finish off the Paladins. Smith said the team would have preferred a wider margin of victory in the last two sets.

“A win’s always nice, but it would have been nicer to put them away a little more handily, like in the first set,” he said.

Next week the team goes on the road to play the Western Mustangs and the Windsor Lancers. Rosenbaum said the trip presents a new set of challenges for the Gaels.

“It’s going to be tough: the first road trip, and the longest one,” he said.

The women’s volleyball team also played Friday night, losing their home opener three sets to one to the defending OUA champion Ottawa Gee-Gees. The team’s new head coach Joely Christian said the game was a good indication the Gaels can compete with strong teams like Ottawa.

“I thought it was a really good game,” she said. “It gave us an idea of where we stand in the league from the perspective that this is where we are, this is where we want to go, and how far are we from achieving that.”

Key recruits Elyssa Heller, Lorna Button and Colleen Oglivie all played for the Gaels Friday, and Heller led the team with 12 kills.

Christian said she was impressed with the recruiting class’s performance.

“They’re fantastic,” she said. “They’ve all come in with great attitudes and great skills.”

Christian said the team has high hopes for the year.

“We came into the season with the idea of finishing top four in the OUA East and with the long-term plan of by 2010, winning the championship,” she said. “I think what Friday showed us is that we are capable of more than just top four in the OUA East. We’ll have to do a gut check and see if, as a team, we’re ready to challenge ourselves for more than that.”

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