Just taking care of business

The Gaels dispose of the lowly Toronto Varsity Blues in straight sets at home

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The men’s volleyball team came away with a solid three-set win over the University of Toronto Varsity Blues last Friday. The Gaels are on a four-game winning streak with an overall record of 13-3.

Head coach Brenda Willis said a strong crowd presence helped the Gaels.

“When you’re playing a team that is clearly out of the playoffs and you’re in a comfortable position, it’s really easy to come out and not play with much emotion,” she said. “I thought because the crowd was so good, despite the weather and the ranking of [the Blues], it really made a difference. I thought we played with some energy.”

The Gaels had convincing victories in the first two sets, beating the Blues 25-17, then 25-19. Willis said the first two sets were authoritative.

The third set marked a shift in pace as starters, including Joren Zeeman and Dan Rosenbaum, were replaced. Although the set was a bit stressful for the Gaels, they did win 29-27 in the end. Willis took advantage of the lead and put in the team’s backups to keep them competition ready. Willis said the change may have been a factor in allowing the Blues back into the set.

“We let down a little bit intensity-wise when we were up 2-0 and I made changes,” she said. “Unfortunately, I think some of the guys feel that when I make those changes or if we’re up 2-0 [that] ‘well, it’s easy now.’” “The opponent’s back is to the wall at that point and they have to play with a lot of urgency or they’re out, where we have a comfort zone. Historically, even getting up 2-0, we have a tendency to let opponents back in.”

Outside Niko Rukavina had an outstanding game with career highs of 18 kills and a 69.6 hitting percentage. Willis said that Matt Taylor also had a good game and Will Sidgwick passed well.

Outside Bryan Fautley, normally a force for Queen’s, only played briefly at the end of the second set.

“Fautley’s been sick all week,” said Willis. “I could have played him. He’s pretty tough. I think if I had needed him to come in and perform he would have, but it wasn’t necessary.”

Rookie libero Jacob Glantz came in for the third set.

“In the late fall, [Glantz] had almost established himself as our starter,” Willis said. “This was the first time he’s come in off the bench and done that and I think it was just a different thing for him. [The Blues] went after him right away and if you don’t get the first one or two, your confidence gets shaken and then you get a little bit nervous and I think that’s what happened, but he recovered really well.”

Two other rookies, middle Philippe Goyer and outside Kieran Courtright, also came in for the third set.

“I thought [Goyer] did a very good job, particularly blocking,” she said. “I thought that he slowed a lot of balls down for us … [Courtright’s] going to come in and serve at a really critical time in a game and I probably shouldn’t wait until the 25th point of the third game to give him that opportunity, but the pressure wasn’t the same … Those are the pressure situations I’m grooming him to deal with and he did a good job.”

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