Men’s volleyball picks up two wins

Toronto proved welcoming to the men’s volleyball team last weekend, as they picked up full points from their road matches against the University of Toronto Varsity Blues and the Ryerson Rams and only dropped one set in the process. Queen’s defeated the Varsity Blues three sets to one on Friday night and then swept Ryerson in straight sets Saturday. The victories improved the Gaels’ record to 3-1, putting them third in Ontario behind the 4-0 McMaster Marauders and the 3-0 Western Mustangs.

Head coach Brenda Willis said she was impressed with the team’s performance, especially considering that they were using a different passing system on defence for the first time in a match.

“It was a successful weekend in that we started to work with a little bit of a new system on serve receive,” she said. “The fact that we went into doing this with only about four days of preparation testing the new system and could come out of it 3-0 and 3-1 is great.”

Willis said the new system features right-side hitter Joren Zeeman in a more prominent defensive role, and she was impressed with how he handled the challenge.

“His numbers were quite acceptable given the lack of experience,” she said. “It is going to give us more options.” The Gaels dropped the first set against the Varsity Blues, which Willis ascribed to a tremendous defensive effort by the opposing team.

“It was incredible defence by Toronto,” she said. “They put up a pretty stable block and dug around it, and we were hitting clean angles and they were digging us and digging us and digging us.”

Willis said the Gaels adapted in the second set and started hitting off the block and out of bounds instead of going for clean kills, which made a large difference.

“We made some adjustments at the end of the set and said ‘Use the block, go after the hands, deflect the ball,’” she said. “There’s lots of vulnerability in the block if we attack it hard, so we were able to bust their block a lot more after the first set.”

Willis said the key factor in Saturday’s win was Queen’s effective serving.

“Against Toronto, we had more serving errors than I would have liked, but serving was very good against Ryerson, probably the best this season,” she said. “We actually had more aces than errors, which is kind of a team goal all season long.”

This coming weekend, the Gaels will travel to Hamilton to face the defending OUA champion McMaster Marauders Saturday afternoon and will then take on the Guelph Gryphons Sunday. Willis said both teams will pose tough challenges for the Gaels.

“I think this is our toughest weekend of the year when you put the two matches together,” she said. “Clearly Mac is the team to beat, based on last year and the fact that it’s pretty much the same lineup or better, and we’re quite young; we’re playing at least four second-year players basically all the time. I think it’s a good measuring stick for us. I think the key thing is that we don’t spend so much on the Mac game that we don’t have anything left for Guelph.”

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