Rival Western tops Queen’s

Gaels’ grab second spot in the OUA going into the winter break

Plagued by injuries, the men’s volleyball team split their home games last weekend, edged out by the Western Mustangs in five sets on Saturday before rebounding for a straight-sets win over the Windsor Lancers on Sunday.

Heading in to the weekend the Gaels had an opportunity to overtake the Mustangs for the top spot in the OUA standings, however Western proved too strong in an 8-25, 25-20, 25-22, 24-26, 7-15 heartbreaking loss.

Outside hitter Joren Zeeman, who was unable to play against the Mustangs due to an ankle injury, made his presence felt as he returned to the lineup against the Lancers with a team-leading 20 points on 18 kills to lead Queen’s to the 25-23, 25-22, 25-22 victory. Setter Jackson Dakin recorded 88 assists over the two games for the Gaels.

Zeeman said he was pleased to see the team rebound after a tough loss against Western.

“It’s good to get a win in three sets, we haven’t done that in a while,” he said. “We lost two close games in five sets coming in to the game [against Windsor] and we wanted to come out strong and not have it go to a fifth set. We wanted to make a statement and beat these guys. They’re a good team and have some very good players but we managed to shut them down today.”

The Gaels were without the services of outside hitter Niko Rukavina and setter Dan Rosenbaum for both matches, and outside hitter Bryan Fautley was forced to miss the game against the Lancers due to an injury sustained in the Saturday loss.

Despite these injuries, Zeeman said the team wasn’t looking for an excuse but rather needed to improve their overall play.

“The loss [against Western] was obviously disappointing,” he said. “We really felt that we had the personnel on the floor to get the win. It had nothing to do with injuries or people not playing. It’s more that we didn’t get points we needed when it mattered at the end of the fourth set and in the fifth set.”

Head coach Brenda Willis said Zeeman’s introduction in to the lineup against the Lancers provided a big boost for the entire team.

“It was extremely important that [Zeeman] be in the mix against Windsor,” Willis said. “He just adds so much confidence to the floor due to the fact that he can score at will. He warmed [the ankle] up and gave it a shot. I’d say he was at about 60 per cent capacity but he sure helped us.”

With the win, the Gaels wrapped up the first part of their season with a record of 8-2, good for 16 points and a tie for second place in the OUA with the McMaster Marauders. The Mustangs sit atop the chart with a 10-0 record.

“Our goal all along has been to win the OUA Championship, to finish in the top four at CIS,” Willis said. “Certainly the setbacks of the major injuries have made that a loftier goal. Being 8-2, all things considered, especially with the two losses coming in five sets without some of our key guys present, we’re pretty confident that we can get everything working together.”

Queen’s will now travel to Western Canada at the end of the month to take part in a tournament hosted by the Trinity Western Spartans in Langley, British Columbia before continuing OUA action on Jan. 9 when they visit the RMC Paladins.

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