Little contest for Gaels

Women’s volleyball beats RMC 3-0, men win 3-1 with rookies

Rookie left side hitter Bryan Fautley (6) goes up for a kill against David Gomes (14) of the Royal Military College Paladins Wednesday night. The Gaels won 3-1.
Rookie left side hitter Bryan Fautley (6) goes up for a kill against David Gomes (14) of the Royal Military College Paladins Wednesday night. The Gaels won 3-1.
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The women’s and men’s volleyball teams both came away with victories against the winless Royal Military College Paladins Wednesday night at Bartlett Gym.

In the early match, the 2-9 women’s team picked up their third win of the year in straight sets against the Paladins, who haven’t won a set this season.

The Gaels came out of the gate strong and took the first set by a lopsided 25-7 score. The Paladins battled back in the second, opening up a 7-3 lead, but the Gaels recovered to win 25-18 and claimed the third set 25-11.

Head coach Joely Christian said the match should help boost the team’s confidence.

“We’ve struggled the last few matches; we’ve struggled for a win over the last month,” she said. “I think there were things in the match that were definitely positive that we want to take forward into the weekend.”

Christian said the team’s ability to hang on to leads has been a concern before, but she was pleased with their play towards the end of the match.

“We need to just stay in the game, and not let them get important points at the end,” she said. “It’s happened to us before where we’re up and we never go for the win, and then we let down. At the end of that match, we didn’t let down.”

Christian said her biggest concern going forward is the team’s defence.

“At the end of the day, for us, it’s really about taking care of the ball on our side of the net,” she said.

Rookie outside hitter Elyssa Heller led the Gaels with eight kills, while fellow rookie Lorna Button added seven kills and a match-high 10 digs.

Button, who recorded seven kills and a match-high 10 digs for the Gaels, said the team’s composure helped them win.

“We were just relaxed,” she said. “They got a couple good kills, but we didn’t let that bother us; we just kept going.”

Third-year middle hitter Brenna Swift, who put up five kills and six blocks for the Gaels, said the team kept their confidence even when they trailed in the second set.

“I don’t think there was ever a time when any of us didn’t believe in our teammates,” she said. “We were never concerned that we weren’t going to win, we just knew we had to get back into our groove.”

The 8-4 men’s team started poorly in the second match of the doubleheader, committing several passing errors and losing the first set 28-26. It was only the third set the Paladins had won all year. The Gaels quickly rebounded, though, winning the next three sets 25-21, 25-13 and 25-21 to claim the match.

Head coach Brenda Willis said the first-set loss was only a minor disappointment because she started four rookies and expected there to be some communication problems.

“As a group, they haven’t practiced or played [together] very much,” she said. “They were OK physically, but they had to be more together verbally so they had a sense of who was doing what.”

Willis stuck with her inexperienced lineup, and it paid off in the end.

“They were a little better in the second set, but in the third set, they really got comfortable,” she said. “Once they won a set, they played with confidence.”

Willis said she was certain the rookies would come through for her.

“I knew once they sorted out their communication problems, physically they’d be fine, and that’s exactly what happened.”

Willis said she was happy the rookies stepped up, allowing her to rest some key starters.

“It was exactly what I wanted, to rest [Jeff] DeMeza and Joren [Zeeman], and Devon [regular setter Devon Miller], who’s played a lot lately.”

Rookie left side hitter Bryan Fautley, making his first start for Queen’s, led the Gaels with a match-high 14 kills.

“When I found out I was starting, I was pretty excited,” he said.

Fautley said the Gaels should have won the first set.

“They didn’t deserve that win,” he said. “We had a lot of errors—that was the problem with that set.”

Fautley said he was happy Willis left him and the other rookies in the game after the poor first set.

“I think she had faith in us,” he said. “We know we can definitely play better than that, and we ended up playing a lot better than that.”

Fourth-year outside hitter Luke Lichty, who is attempting to come back from surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff muscle, got some playing time in the last couple sets. Lichty said he’s making good progress.

“The average recovery time on a surgery like that is six months, which would be mid-February, but I’ve been ahead of schedule since the beginning, so I’m hoping to be 100 per cent in a few weeks,” he said.

Both teams travel to Toronto Saturday to play the Ryerson Rams.

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