Women upset Lions

Volleyball defeats York squad, but fall to first-place Blues

Louise Hamill goes for a kill against York Saturday night.
Louise Hamill goes for a kill against York Saturday night.

The women’s volleyball team split their weekend matches against higher-ranked teams, making their season record 5-10. They pulled off a surprising four-set upset of the 8-5 York Lions Saturday night in Bartlett Gym but lost in straight sets to the 14-2 University of Toronto Varsity Blues Sunday afternoon.

The Gaels got off to a strong start against York, taking the first set 25-21 on the strength of seven kills from rookie outside hitter Lorna Button and three straight service aces from rookie middle hitter Colleen Ogilvie. York rebounded to win the second set 25-22. But Queen’s came back with 25-23 and 25-21 wins in the next two sets to clinch the match. Button led the Gaels with 14 kills, while Ogilvie, Elyssa Heller and Louise Hamill also recorded double digits. Setter Ellen Gray recorded match-high numbers in two categories with 21 digs and 40 assists.

Heller said consistency and teamwork were key for the Gaels.

“It was the first time we’ve continually played together as well as that,” she said. “We’ve been training and practising really hard, we all have the same goal in mind, and I think that’s what won us the game.”

Hamill said the win was a long time in the making.

“I’ve seen York a lot, and I never understand how they always beat us,” she said. “I knew that if we came out and played hard, we could take it.”

Head coach Joely Christian predicted the team could beat York in the Jan. 25 issue of the Journal. She said she was pleased her prediction worked out, but even happier with the team’s play.

“One of the things I was most happy about was the fact that we played consistently, took care of the ball, and a lot of the errors that have hurt us in the past didn’t come back to haunt us,” she said. “We’ve been playing the game better, not only as a team, but individually. I knew as long as we came today and performed, we could beat them.”

Christian said Button’s play was the key factor in the match.

“Right from the beginning of the match, she was incredible,” she said.

The team’s rookies and veterans are working well together, Christian said.

“We’ve put a lot on the rookies’ shoulders, but I also am very impressed with senior athletes like [team captain] Lisa Cooke being able to come in off the bench and show leadership by coming in and making big plays for us,” she said.

The Gaels faced the first-place Blues early in the afternoon on Sunday. Queen’s kept it even early on and even jumped out to an early 13-11 lead, but Toronto scored four straight points and never looked back, pulling out a 25-18, 25-18, 25-19 win.

There were bright spots for the Gaels, however. Ogilvie recorded a team-high eight kills, and rookie middle hitter Katie Matthews converted all four of her kill opportunities in the third set to record a perfect kill percentage. Matthews put up six points—second-highest on the team—despite only playing half of the last set.

Matthews said the Gaels can accomplish more than they have so far.

“We’re a great team, and we have so much potential and ability,” she said. “We have the motivation—we’re here every day—and we have the attitude. Sometimes, we defeat ourselves [mentally] and it shows on the court.”

Matthews said the team can take a renewed sense of confidence from the weekend despite Sunday’s loss.

“Our game against York yesterday did wonders for us,” she said.

The Toronto match was a potential playoff preview, as the Blues hold down first in the OUA East while the Gaels are in the fourth and final playoff spot. If the standings remain the same, they’ll meet in the first round.

Matthews said the team found weaknesses they could exploit in a return matchup against the Blues.

“We can challenge their passing as well with our tough serving. We’re working really hard on that, and it shows.”

This weekend the Gaels face the Laurier Golden Hawks and the Waterloo Warriors. They fly to Thunder Bay the following weekend to take on the Lakehead Timberwolves to end the regular season.

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