Gaels flying high

Men’s volleyball wins in straight sets, women’s team splits two

Gael Jeff DeMeza (2) goes for a dig as Pete Galbraith looks on.
Gael Jeff DeMeza (2) goes for a dig as Pete Galbraith looks on.

The men’s volleyball team won in straight sets for the second time this season Saturday night, recording a 25-23, 25-21, 26-24 victory over the Ryerson Rams at Bartlett Gym.

Head coach Brenda Willis said she was pleased with the team’s performance after falling behind in the third set.

“I think our team showed a lot of character,” she said. “We came out strong, we played well, and then in the third set, we got a bit comfortable. We started to relax, and Ryerson got a pretty solid lead. It was really nice to see the response of the vets. They simply weren’t going to let it go and allow them a fourth set, because anything can happen.” Willis said the game showcased the Gaels’ improvement so far this year.

“We played Ryerson in exhibition at their tournament, and they beat us in three [sets], so I think we’ve made some really good progress,” she said.

The Gaels were led by strong efforts from outside hitters Jeff DeMeza, Dan McCrae and Sam Pedlow who recorded 11, nine and eight kills respectively. DeMeza is fourth in the OUA in kills with 105, and ninth in Ontario in points per game with 3.83.

Middle hitters Chris VanDyk and Nick Gralewicz each put up five kills to balance the attack, while setter Devon Miller recorded 37 assists. Miller’s 314 assists this year is the second-best total in Ontario and the third-best in Canada.

McCrae said the Gaels are still adjusting. At this time last year, they were 8-0, compared to 6-2 this year.

“We’re a little bit behind where we were last year,” he said. “I think the new offence and the new defence is affecting that.”

The team goes on the road this weekend to play the Guelph Gryphons and the McMaster Marauders. The 9-0 Marauders are ranked fifth nationally, higher than any other Ontario school. Queen’s narrowly defeated McMaster in a best-of-three final last season to claim the OUA championship. The 8-1 Gryphons are second in the OUA.

Miller said the competition in the OUA is fiercer than it was last season.

“I think the league got a lot better,” he said. “We were able to, last year, not really play our best until the huge games, and you can’t do that anymore at all.”

Miller said he’s excited to face the Gryphons and the Marauders.

“They’re huge, huge games,” he said. “We definitely feel like we’re playing way better than we were earlier. … I think we can go out and get the wins this weekend.”

Willis said facing Guelph and McMaster will be tough but surmountable challenges.

“Both Guelph and Mac have very good records, and on any given day, I think they’re both very beatable, particularly Guelph,” she said. “It’s really going to come down to execution. Our guys know how to win, they’ve done it lots, and if they pass well, we should have a good shot at both these matches.”

The women’s volleyball team also hosted games on the weekend. They suffered a close 25-22, 19-25, 23-25, 25-17, 15-13 loss to the Brock Badgers on Friday, but rebounded with a resounding 25-17, 25-23, 17-25, 25-10 victory over the Ryerson Rams Saturday. The win improved Queen’s record to 2-4.

Middle hitter Christiane Taylor and outside hitter Elyssa Heller led the Gaels with 24 kills each over the weekend’s matches. Heller’s average of 3.75 points per game is sixth-best in the OUA.

Head coach Joely Christian said the performances demonstrated the team’s continual improvement.

“Every week, we’ve gotten better,” she said. “There’s been steady improvement in our play.”

Christian said the five-set loss to Brock on Friday was tough to take.

“It’s a little disappointing,” she said.

“At the same time, it’s our first five-set match of the year, so it teaches us what we need to do in the future.”

Christian said the close loss may have helped inspire the team to win on Saturday.

“I think when you lose something that closely, a little bit more determination shines through,” she said. “You want it a little bit more.”

Rookie middle hitter Colleen Ogilvie, who had 15 kills on the weekend, said the team is starting to gel.

“I feel like we’ve really come together as a team,” she said. “We have a lot of potential.”

The women’s team will also travel to play Guelph and McMaster this weekend.

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