Gaels sweep ARC clean

Pair of shutout wins at home improves men’s volleyball record to 6-0

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The men’s volleyball team had another successful weekend, defeating the York Lions (25-15, 25-16, 25-22) on Friday and topping the Ryerson Rams (25-13, 25-14, 25-17). The victories leave the defending OUA Champions with a perfect 6-0 record.

With the outcome never really in doubt, libero Alex Oneid said he was satisfied with how well the team had executed their game plan.

“We had a specific game plan and that was to contain them,” he said. “Ryerson, more than York, had a chance to push us a little more. But being the more experienced and undefeated team, we had a lot of confidence.”

Oneid also highlighted the significance of the team’s defensive play, noting that the Gaels have conceded just four sets over the course of their first six games.

“[Defence] was extremely important,” he said. “The other team is struggling to find points if we’re digging and blocking well.” Though the Gaels are undefeated and tied for first place in the OUA, injuries continue to plague the team. With setter Daniel Rosenbaum out after a knee surgery, the Gaels have had to make do without one of their star players.

“We are definitely missing Dan,” Oneid said. “[His absence] really affected the team, especially at the beginning of the year.” Still, Oneid said he’s confident Rosenbaum’s replacement, Jackson Dakin, is up to the task.

“Jackson has stepped up so much,” he said. “We have so much confidence in him. We miss Dan but we are undefeated with Jackson. I’m sure we are going to continue that way because he’s a great setter.”

Dakin had a standout performance on Saturday, notching a game-high 29 assists.

Head coach Brenda Willis said the Gaels’ training has had to adapt because of the injury situation.

“Really, the hardest thing is practicing without Dan. We have to get pretty creative because usually you need to practice with two setters,” said Willis. “Still, we’re 6-0, so it’s not so hard.” Willis’ Gaels also have to deal with injuries to outsides Joren Zeeman and Niko Rukavina, who have both been sidelined for at least one game.

“It’s tough,” she said. “I’m now essentially down to three left sides. It means that I will have to move Matthew Taylor back to the right, and some rookies might get called on.” Though the team’s experience is one of its main assets, Willis remains excited to see what the rookies can deliver.

“It will be a chance to see what they’re made of,” she said.

Though the Gaels have a perfect record, Willis said she’s careful not to be overly optimistic since the team has yet to face a genuine contender in the OUA.

“Every team we have met that has pushed us, [when] we’ve pushed back … they haven’t responded,” she said, adding that she hopes a greater challenge will come from this weekend’s opponents, the McMaster Marauders and the Guelph Gryphons. Both teams are breathing down the the first place Gaels’ necks in the OUA standings, occupying third and fourth place respectively.

“It will be a step up from what we have been facing. We will be up against good middles now, and more jump servers,” she said. “But it’s nothing we can’t manage. It’s nothing we didn’t see in the preseason.”

The Gaels will be on the road this weekend against the Guelph Gryphons on Saturday and the McMaster Marauders on Sunday.

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