Resilient Gaels tough out 10 sets in two games

Two five-set games in a row for women’s volleyball as they secure playoff berth against top-seeded York Lions

Queen’s outside hitter Lorna Button tips the ball Friday night at Bartlett Gym against U of T’s Heather Bansley. The Gaels lost in five sets.
Queen’s outside hitter Lorna Button tips the ball Friday night at Bartlett Gym against U of T’s Heather Bansley. The Gaels lost in five sets.
Photo by Chris Bermingham

The women’s volleyball team had a longer weekend than expected, going to five sets in both home games against the 10-7 University of Toronto Varsity Blues and the 3-14 Ryerson Rams. They lost to the Varsity Blues Friday but beat the Rams Saturday.

The Varsity Blues were third in the OUA East division and one spot ahead of Queen’s going into Friday night’s meeting, which means the Gaels can’t avoid a first-round meeting with the top-seeded York Lions in the upcoming playoffs.

Both teams burst out of the gates, with the Gaels dropping the first set 25-23 but recovering to pick up the next two sets 25-15 and 25-22. But Queen’s couldn’t close and the Blues took the fourth set 25-23 to force a fifth set. In the fifth set, Queen’s jumped out to a 9-1 lead but couldn’t hold on, losing 15-11.

Gaels’ outside hitter Louise Hamill said Queen’s played better against the Varsity Blues.

“It was a tight loss,” she said. “We should have won. We played really well though. It’s hard to take.”

Hamill said mistakes cost the Gaels their momentum in the fifth set.

“I think our passing let us down,” she said. “[There were] a lot of unforced errors. We just left it back in the game and once they got on a run they used it.”

Saturday night’s meeting with Ryerson was a similar affair. Ryerson won the first set 25-21, but the Gaels took the second and third 25-23 and 25-15. The Gaels once again lost momentum and dropped the fourth set 25-23. But they regained their cool in the fifth set to take the game with a 15-13 victory.

Head coach Joely Christian said Ryerson has improved a lot this year and the Gaels were surprised by their performance.

“I don’t think any of us expected it to go to five,” she said. “There are lots of changes to Ryerson; the new head coach for one. They were a much better team that showed up tonight than they had been previously.”

Christian said the Gaels didn’t play their best volleyball, which was disappointing in a match that she saw as preparation for their quarter-final playoff match this coming Saturday.

“For me, it was pre-quarters prep,” she said. “I wanted the girls to come out and play at playoff level but we didn’t perform like that, which was a little disappointing.”

Queen’s will face the top-seeded York Lions in the first round of the OUA East playoffs Saturday. York finished the regular season with an 18-1 record, but took their first loss of the year Saturday against the McMaster Marauders.

Christian said she’s looking forward to playing the Lions despite their stellar record and thinks the Gaels have a shot if they cut down on their service errors.

“I’m pretty excited about playing York in the first round,” she said. “Eliminating our errors will play a huge factor in our success.”

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