Road weary Gaels

Injuries create opportunities for Gaels’ depth to shine

The men’s volleyball team experienced their first tough weekend of the season with a testing victory over the Guelph Gryphons 3-2 last Saturday and a tight loss to the McMaster Marauders 3-2 on Sunday. They are now second in the OUA with a 7-1 record.

Serving proved to be an issue for the Gaels all weekend. They made 41 service errors while their opponents only made 25.

“I thought we had some really great moments on the court but I also feel as though there were areas that we could improve upon including our serving,” outside Bryan Fautley said. “That was a big deficiency against McMaster and one of the leading reasons why we lost to them actually.”

While the loss to the Marauders ended the Gaels’ perfect record, the team put up a good fight given their circumstances. With injuries to veterans Daniel Rosenbaum, Niko Rukavina and Joren Zeeman as well as second-year outsider Nick LeBlanc, the Gaels have been forced to use their depth to overcome the significant absences.

“[These injuries] are awful,” Fautley said. “At this point, we’re not expecting any of our injured players to come back until the first weekend [of next term].”

Although the injuries are unfortunate, they have given some of the Gaels’ younger players a chance to gain some valuable experience.

“It’s really given our younger guys an opportunity to step up and play some of their best games,” Fautley said. “[Will Sidgwick] has been playing amazingly and Matt Taylor … really performed this weekend. [Jacob Glantz] is playing great. Everybody really stepped up their game.”

Head coach Brenda Willis said she was proud of her team this weekend.

“I thought, in both games, we did a good job of fighting,” Willis said. “Whether we were up or we were down, [we] continued to compete and fight and I was really happy with that.”

Willis echoed Fautley’s concern with the team’s serving.

“I thought we made too many serving errors and particularly some untimely ones,” she said. “We can’t [win games] if we miss 25 serves. That’s handing the game over to the other team.”

Willis said she was also frustrated with the OUA’s failure to schedule equal rest time for the Marauders, who had 24 hours’ rest before Sunday’s game, and the Gaels, who only had 18 hours. This error, along with their home court advantage, gave the Marauders a leg up on Sunday.

“We made some errors at the wrong times,” Willis said of Sunday’s game. “We fought back from being down 2-1 and losing pretty badly in the third [set], so that showed a lot of character.”

The team’s focus is on this weekend’s home games against the Western Mustangs and the Windsor Lancers. Western is a major rival as well as the only team ahead of the Gaels in the OUA, while the Lancers are close to the Gaels at fourth.

“The [two teams] are very much in the same realm as us,” Willis said. “[Western has] weapons in every position and they don’t rely on any one guy to win the games for them … I’m hoping we’ll get a really good crowd; it’s like having an extra player on the floor.”

The men’s volleyball team will play the Western Mustangs Saturday at 1 p.m and the Windsor Lancers Sunday at 2 p.m. at the ARC.

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