Men’s volleyball pulls off two wins

Gaels defeat Laurier and Waterloo in straight sets last weekend at Bartlett Gym

Gaels’ hitters Sam Pedlow (8) and Joren Zeeman (5) go up for a block against the Laurier Golden Hawks Saturday night.
Gaels’ hitters Sam Pedlow (8) and Joren Zeeman (5) go up for a block against the Laurier Golden Hawks Saturday night.
Credit: 
Photo by Chris NG
Men’s volleyball setter Dan Rosenbaum (4) sets middle hitter Michael Amoroso up for a spike Saturday night against the Laurier Golden Hawks at Bartlett Gym.
Men’s volleyball setter Dan Rosenbaum (4) sets middle hitter Michael Amoroso up for a spike Saturday night against the Laurier Golden Hawks at Bartlett Gym.
Credit: 
Photo by Chris Ng

The men’s volleyball team came up with two big straight-set victories over the 4-4 Laurier Golden Hawks and the 5-4 Waterloo Warriors last weekend at Bartlett Gym. With the wins, the Gaels improve to 7-2 and gain sole control of second place in the OUA behind y the 9-0 McMaster Marauders.

Head coach Brenda Willis said she was happy the team played consistently well and didn’t let up.

“I was quite pleased to win both of them 3-0,” she said. “We were able to control the game for the most part.”

Willis attributed the success to the team’s ability to stay focused.

“One of the things we’ve been working hard at is keeping an even keel,” she said. “I think the team really controlled things well.”

The Gaels often struggled to finish off their opponents last year, with many games going to five sets. This year, they’ve been more efficient and have only lost one set in their last four matches. Willis said the team’s improved consistency is partly thanks to the performance of their young players who are fighting for court time and always eager to play their best.

“We had lots of fifth-year guys on the floor last year, and they’re comfortable,” she said. “They don’t have anything to prove.”

Willis said she was especially pleased with second-year outside hitter Niko Rukavina’s defensive play against Waterloo.

“They kept testing him and I thought he responded really well,” she said.

Willis said fifth-year outside hitter Jeff DeMeza also played a big role against the Warriors.

“I thought he stepped up really nicely in the Waterloo game,” she said.

The Gaels now have a better record than at the midway point of the season last year, when they were 6-4. Willis said she’s happy with the improved performance, especially considering the Gaels’ lineup is younger this year.

“To be 7-2 right now, we’re on track to be better than last year with four second-years on the floor,” she said. “They’re experienced as volleyball players, but not experienced as a unit.”

Despite the early success, one large challenge still looms before the Gaels. The OUA only has one berth in the CIS championships this year, so Queen’s will have to get past the McMaster Marauders, ranked second in Canada, to compete at the national level. The reigning Ontario champion Marauders have been dominant thus far, running up a perfect 9-0 record and only losing two sets along the way. Still, Willis said the Gaels can challenge McMaster, as one of those two sets came against unranked Queen’s.

“I think our football team proved, regrettably, that national rankings don’t mean anything,” she said. “On any given day, anyone can beat any other team.”

Willis said the Gaels’ depth may prove vital.

“Injuries could play a role,” she said. “Mac, they have their top seven and then there’s a bigger step down after that than there is with us.”

Willis said that confidence has to be kept in check, because McMaster’s starting lineup is strong.

“We’re deeper at every position,” she said. “We’re not better at any position.”

The Gaels concluded the first half of their regular season against the winless Royal Military College Paladins last night, after press time. They won’t have an easy off-season, though. Queen’s will travel to Florida in late December to play in an exhibition tournament against Canadian and American schools and then return home for another pre-season tournament at York University.

Willis said she’s pleased with what the team has done so far, but expects more in the New Year.

“We go into the break feeling pretty confident.”

When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.