Tough road ahead for men’s volleyball

Men lose game 1 of final playoff series to McMaster

It hasn’t been an easy playoff run for the men’s volleyball team. The Gaels edged the sixth-seeded Waterloo Warriors in five sets Saturday to set up a rematch of last season’s OUA final against the top-seeded McMaster Marauders and then dropped the first match of the best-of-three final in four sets Tuesday night at Bartlett Gym.

McMaster head coach Dave Preston said he was thrilled to pick up a victory on the road against Queen’s.

“This is probably the toughest gym in Ontario to get a win in,” he said. “It’s tough when you’re on the road. You have to come into someone else’s home and try to set the tone of the match, and that’s not easy to do here. Bartlett’s been very friendly to Queen’s, so we were very fortunate to come in here, play the way we did tonight and come out with a win in the first match of the series.”

Tuesday’s match started auspiciously for the Gaels, who claimed the first set 25-20. McMaster rebounded to take the next three sets by scores of 25-22, 25-20 and 25-18. Service errors played a large factor in the turnaround; the Gaels missed only one serve in the first set but missed nine in the last three sets.

McMaster outside hitter Jeremy Groenveld, one of the team’s three OUA first-team all-star selections, shone for the Marauders, piling up 22 kills on 36 attempts and adding 11 digs and three blocks. Queen’s lone first-team all-star, outside hitter Joren Zeeman, led his team with 19 kills on 36 attempts.

The Gaels will now have to win back-to-back matches in Hamilton Thursday and Saturday to claim the OUA championship and the one Ontario berth at this year’s national championship in Alberta. Preston said no one should discount the Gaels’ chances yet.

“By no means is this series done,” he said. “Queen’s is a great team. I totally expect that they’re going to rebound for Thursday night.”

Queen’s head coach Brenda Willis said winning back-to-back in Hamilton will be a tough task. The Marauders were 17-3 during the regular season and only lost one match at home.

“We’ve got our work cut out for us.”

The Gaels will face the Marauders at 7 p.m. Thursday in Hamilton. If they win that match, the teams will clash again at 2 p.m. on Saturday. Both games will be web cast live at www.ssncanada.ca.

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