Volleyball bounces back

After losing opener, men sweep opponents en route to fifth-place finish

Sunday, March 14 - 10:30 p.m.

KAMLOOPS, B.C. - The men’s volleyball team finished their run at the national championships in style Sunday, defeating the Thompson Rivers WolfPack in the fifth-place game. Queen’s won the first set 25-23, then lost the next two 15-25 and 21-25 before bouncing back to win the fourth set 25-18 and the decisive fifth set 15-13.

Thompson Rivers head coach Pat Hennelly said the Gaels played a solid game.

“Give Queen’s credit; they did a lot of good things,” he said. “In the fourth and the fifth, their defence really paid off. We just didn’t show enough energy.”

Queen’s head coach Brenda Willis said the team’s performance at nationals should help validate Queen’s as a solid volleyball program.

“It always feels good when you win,” she said. “We came in seeded fifth and I think a lot of people believed we shouldn’t be fifth, that we weren’t as good as anyone in Canada West. Canada West is a great conference, but we really believe that with this group of athletes, if we had the chance to play at this level all the time, we’d be as good as anybody.”

The Gaels lost their first match in straight sets to the Trinity Western Spartans Friday, knocking them out of the championship-side bracket, but they beat the Université de Montréal Carabins Saturday to advance to the fifth-place final against the WolfPack.

The Spartans went on to the tournament final, which Willis said makes the loss to them more palatable for Queen’s.

“When you lose to number-one or number-two and you win your next two, there’s nothing to be ashamed of,” she said. “We’re pretty happy.”

Queen’s setter Dan Rosenbaum said the team bounced back nicely from their opening loss.

“After day one against Trinity Western, we were pretty discouraged,” he said. “Once we realized we could still come out of the tournament with two wins and one loss, we decided to come out and play.”

Rosenbaum said the team’s performance should help OUA schools’ reputation, especially considering that the Gaels weren’t ranked in the national Top 10 heading into the tournament.

“I think it’s a good statement game for the OUA,” he said. “There’s a lot of naysayers out there that like to put down Ontario volleyball. Hopefully in the next couple of years, we can prove them wrong and be in the conversation with the top volleyball teams in the nation.”

Rosenbaum said the team’s hoping to build on this performance for the next few seasons.

“I think it works really well with our five-year plan, hosting nationals in what would be mine and Bryan and Joren [Zeeman] and Niko [Rukavina]’s fifth year,” he said. “To win OUAs and get to CIs this year was a really good experience. Hopefully we can use that to move forward next year and in our fifth year, get ready to win a medal.”

Andrew Bucholtz was the Journal’s sports editor in 2008-09 and assistant sports editor in 2007-08. He blogs at sportingmadness.ca

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