Gaels can’t hang on in opener

Women’s volleyball starts off well against the Gee-Gees, but ultimately drops the decision

Gaels’ middle Christiane Taylor goes up for a spike against Ottawa.
Gaels’ middle Christiane Taylor goes up for a spike against Ottawa.
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Queen’s outside hitter Lorna Button and middle hitter Christiane Taylor go up for a block against Ottawa outside hitter Veronique Yeon Friday in Bartlett Gym.
Queen’s outside hitter Lorna Button and middle hitter Christiane Taylor go up for a block against Ottawa outside hitter Veronique Yeon Friday in Bartlett Gym.
Photo: 

In the early sets of Friday’s season opener again the University of Ottawa GeeGees, the women’s volleyball team looked like it might get off to an auspicious start. But after taking two sets, it was all downhill from there. Ottawa came back to tie the match with 25-21 and 25-23 victories and then claim the win with a 15-13 triumph in the decisive set.

Head coach Joely Christian said she thought the team performed well, though.

“There were a lot of strengths that were shown that came out of that game,” she said. “I thought we served well and played strong defence.”

Christian said the close game proved the Gaels can compete with strong teams like Ottawa.

“While the outcome was disappointing, I think the team showed we are very capable of becoming a contender in the OUA for such a young team,” she said.

The Gaels finished last year with 11 players in their first or second year of eligibility, and they’ve added a new crop of rookies as well. Christian said she was particularly impressed with the performances of her rookies.

“That was a very strong showing by all the first-year kids,” she said.

Christian said the veterans stepped it up as well, and led by example.

“The returning athletes showed a sense of leadership that we haven’t had in the past,” she said.

Christian said she was particularly impressed by third-year outside hitter Louise Hamill, who led the Gaels offensively and defensively with 15 kills and 15 digs.

“Lou’s sort of taken on the captain’s role this year,” she said.

“I felt that she displayed a sense of leadership that last year was lacking a bit. She played strong from a hitting perspective but also a defensive perspective and showed that she’s a well-rounded player.”

The team needs to focus on reducing their errors, Christian said, adding that she felt mistakes cost them the game against Ottawa.

“There were key moments, like for example in the third set, the game was 14-all and we made a lot of errors and gave Ottawa some momentum,” she said. “When I looked back at the tape, it was clear that we made too many errors instead of scoring points. Our error-to-point ratio is going to be a big, significant factor for us. Some of that’s just confidence, believing that we are capable of finishing a game with a win.”

The Gaels will continue their season this weekend with a road trip to St. Catharines to face the Brock Badgers. Christian said the team has stepped up its expectations from last year, when the Gaels finished fourth in the OUA East with a 7-12 record and lost in the first round of the playoffs to the University of Toronto Varsity Blues.

“Our goal is instead of top-four, it’s actually to finish top-three this season and make it to the OUA Final Four.”

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