Gaels pick up pair of wins

Men’s volleyball improves record to 12-4 with wins over York and University of Toronto

The men’s volleyball team celebrates after scoring a point Saturday night against York.
The men’s volleyball team celebrates after scoring a point Saturday night against York.
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This past weekend found the men’s volleyball teams from both York University and the University of Toronto feeling the sting of defeat in their games against the Gaels.

With two solid victories, Queen’s made strides towards both the second position in the OUA standings and successful team dynamics.

Saturday evening saw Queen’s take the 7-8 York Lions to a three-set victory—winning 25-14, 25-17 and 25-17—a feat outside hitter Jeff DeMeza said the team had been working toward.

“We struggle to win in three, so it was a step in the right direction,” he said.

DeMeza, who had 13 kills and scored 14 points in Saturday’s game, said the win was thanks to the team’s defensive focus.

“We’ve got to take care of our side, really. We’re playing some good ball lately,” he said.

The Gaels’ rookies shone in Saturday’s starting lineup: Joren Zeeman made 10 kills and scored 14 points, while Michael Amoroso and Niko Rukavina garnered 10 kills and 11 points between them.

“They’re three good players. They bring a lot of energy, a lot of skill, a lot of confidence,” said team captain Devon Miller. “No one’s going to win this game by themselves—everyone’s chipping in.”

Head coach Brenda Willis said the team had been working on consolidating an early lead and the work finally paid off Saturday.

“We’ve been talking about how very good teams don’t just play well some of the time, very good teams play well consistently,” she said.

Willis said she thought Saturday’s game was one of the team’s best this season.

“This was probably our most fluid performance from start to finish,” she said. “Offensively we dominated, which is really good. … [York] blocked two balls and in total we had seven unforced [errors] against 37 kills, as a team.”

Saturday’s victory was followed by a five-set win against the 4-12 University of Toronto Varsity Blues. Queen’s got off to a slow start, but pulled together to record a 24-26, 25-21, 31-29, 23-25, 15-9 win. Rukavina led the Gaels with 18 kills and added 13 digs, while DeMeza put up 17 kills and Zeeman added 14.

Willis said York had posed a bigger threat to the Gaels leading up to the weekend, so in practice that was the opponent they had focused on beating.

“Going into the weekend, there was a lot of preparation for York,” she said. “There was going to be a bigger challenge for us to be emotionally up for the game [against Toronto].

“I thought we didn’t play with as much emotional fire [on Sunday]. We just played volleyball.”

Willis said although Queen’s played a bit passively against the Blues, they didn’t doubt their ability to clinch the win.

“I think there was an inner confidence right from the beginning that when push came to shove, we could crank it up and win,” she said. “When it came down to the fifth set, they played good volleyball and it was relatively decisive.”

The weekend’s game schedule was also a factor in Sunday’s performance, Willis said.

“It’s not an equitable schedule when your opponent plays at three the day before and has 24 hours to rest and you play at eight and have far less than 24 hours of rest,” she said, noting that OUA regulations state teams should have 24 hours of rest between games.

Willis said she was unsure why the men’s games were scheduled so close together, but said she will work hard to ensure that a similar problem doesn’t arise next year.

“It could be a scheduling circumstance. It could be marketing. I really don’t know,” she said.

The team can take the weekend’s wins into their preparation for the rest of the season and their fight for second place in the OUA standings, Willis said.

“If we can come in second, we can get home court advantage in the second round [of playoffs] and we don’t have to play in the first round.

“We have to approach every week like it’s the playoffs.”

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