Volleyball’s ups & downs

Gaels beat Windsor in four sets but fall in five to Western

Gaels’ outside hitter Joren Zeeman (5) goes for a kill against Western’s Reid Halpenny Saturday.
Gaels’ outside hitter Joren Zeeman (5) goes for a kill against Western’s Reid Halpenny Saturday.
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The men’s volleyball team had a tough opening weekend. On Friday night, it took them four tight-fought sets to defeat the Windsor Lancers, who finished in 10th place in the OUA last season with a 5-15 record. On Saturday night, the third time proved to be the charm for the Western Mustangs, who lost to Queen’s twice in successive weeks in pre-season tournaments but pulled off a five-set win over the Gaels this time around.

Fifth-year outside hitter Jeff DeMeza led the Gaels with 25 points against Windsor Friday, but he said he wasn’t happy with the team’s performance and was especially disappointed that they lost the first set.

“No disrespect to Windsor, they’re a really young team, but we have to hold ourselves to better,” he said. “I felt pretty angry about the game. ... To let them come out here and take the first set in our barn in our home opener, and there’s no energy on the floor, you’re going to play better teams and they’re going to walk all over you if you play like that.”

DeMeza said the Gaels didn’t play with the concentration and communication they needed, especially early on.

“I just thought as a team, the six or seven guys on the floor, there was just not enough focus on taking care of the responsibilities that they had,” he said. “They’re hitting aces in the same spot over and over again, and it’s because we’re not talking out there. We’ve all played volleyball for five or six years at least, and this is not acceptable.”

Second-year outside hitter Bryan Fautley, who recorded 17 kills and four service aces Friday night, said there were several times where the Gaels should have been better.

“When we were playing down, we just weren’t playing up to our standards which we should be playing up to all the time,” he said. “We were letting some easy balls drop.”

Fautley said there were also moments where the Gaels looked in fine form.

“There were a couple good runs and people shone now and then,” he said.

Fautley said the team played up to their potential in the third set, which they took by a decisive 25-17 score, but they regressed in the fourth, which they narrowly won 25-23.

“We finally showed them what we can do, and then we went into the last game thinking, ‘Okay, we showed them what we can do, it’s going to happen again,’” he said. “We didn’t really play as well as

we could.”

Windsor head coach Huub Kemmere said he wasn’t too disappointed with the loss considering Queen’s stature; the Gaels finished 14-6 last season and earned silver medals in the OUA playoffs.

“When you play the better teams in the league, these things are going to happen,” he said. “I thought we pushed them pretty good.”

Queen’s head coach Brenda Willis said the team’s still settling into the season, but there were hopeful signs Friday night.

“We’re still trying to find a good rhythm, but I think it’s starting to come,” she said.

Willis said the team’s early struggles were partly due to the inexperience of her starting lineup, and things improved after she substituted in some veterans.

“I started out playing some pretty young guys, some rookies,” she said. “I just wanted to see how they fared. … I think they’re not too far off, they just don’t play with confidence yet and I felt things were a little quiet in the first set. When I put the veterans in, it made a huge difference. Jeff DeMeza was on fire; they couldn’t stop him.”

Queen’s again started slowly Saturday against Western, falling 29-27 in the first set. They rebounded to win the next two sets, but Western bounced back to win the fourth set and then claimed the close fifth set by a score of 16-14.

The Gaels’ next games will be on the road. They play the University of Toronto tonight and the Ryerson Rams Saturday.

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