Gaels continue playoff drives at home

Basketball hosts Carleton Friday night while volleyball and women’s hockey play two at home

It will be a crucial weekend for the Gaels, who all return from last weekend’s road trips to face important games at home. Both volleyball teams face big weekend matches, hosting the York Lions and the Toronto Varsity Blues. In their last meeting in November, the Lions beat Queen’s in four sets, but the Gaels rebounded the next day with a five-set win over the Blues.

Setter Devon Miller said the loss to York earlier this season increases this rematch’s importance.

“It’s a big game,” he said. “York really killed us in the first half, so we want revenge. We’re definitely excited for that.”

The women’s team is tied for fourth in the OUA East with the Lakehead Thunderwolves. The Blues lead the division and the Lions are in third place.

Head coach Joely Christian said she thinks the women can compete with York despite the difference in their records.

“Will we take third place? No, but I think we have a really good opportunity against York,” she said.

Libero Karlye Wong said it will be important for the Gaels to maintain the effort that saw them beat Ryerson last weekend.

“We have to continue playing at a high intensity,” she said. “We still have to pull out the guts and give it everything we’ve got to win.”

The men’s basketball team also has a big weekend in store, as they take on the undefeated Carleton Ravens tonight. It will be a familiar matchup for Queen’s head coach Rob Smart: his younger brother Dave is the coach of the Ravens, Canada’s top-ranked team, and has led them to five straight national titles. Smart said there isn’t a sibling rivalry though, due to the drastic difference between the two teams’ success.

“A rivalry involves being close,” he said.

Smart said the game means “almost nothing” for his team due to Carleton’s domination.

“They’re undefeated, so it’s not like we’re going to catch them,” he said. “I don’t think it’s hopeless, but I’d be sort of blowing in the wind to suggest that we have too much of a chance.”

Smart said it’s unrealistic to compare Queen’s and Carleton, due to the Ravens’ veteran-laden lineup and the Gaels’ reliance on youth.

“We’re playing five first-year kids and two second-year kids,” he said. “Our kids are doing as well as theirs, but [the Queen’s rookies are] playing more.”

The women’s basketball team also faces Carleton tonight. Head coach Dave Wilson said the match against the Ravens will be crucial.

“We’re in a situation where we need to be playing better basketball as we go down the stretch,” he said. “Carleton is a team that’s right behind us in the standings, so it’s kind of a four-point game.”

Both basketball teams travel across town to the Royal Military College Saturday night to face the winless Paladins. Wilson said his team can’t take RMC lightly despite their 0-15 record.

“It’s not a question of how good your record is,” he said. “It’s how well you’re playing, and they’re playing well enough to beat some teams.”

The men’s hockey team, hot on the heels of Wednesday’s 3-2 win over the RMC Paladins, will face the University of Toronto Varsity Blues Friday night in Toronto. The game will be a battle for the Mid-East division lead, as Queen’s holds a two-point lead over the Blues, who have a game in hand. Forward Pat Doyle said Wednesday’s victory against RMC gives them a boost, but the Toronto match will be important.

“[There’s] big momentum building going into Toronto,” he said. “If they get first place, they get a bye to the second round. If not, the next team might not make the playoffs.”

The Gaels then face the Carleton Ravens Saturday night in Napanee. The teams’ similar records show the OUA’s regional disparity, as Queen’s leads the Mid-East division while Carleton sits in last place in the Far-East.

The women’s hockey team will host two matches this weekend as well. On Friday, the Gaels face the Laurier Golden Hawks in Napanee. Saturday night, the women host the Windsor Lancers at 8:30 p.m. in the Memorial Centre.

­—With files from Mike Woods

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