Keeping it real

The 15-3 men’s volleyball team stays grounded while racking up the wins

The men’s volleyball team swept their weekend games against Ryerson Rams and York Lions in Toronto.
The men’s volleyball team swept their weekend games against Ryerson Rams and York Lions in Toronto.
Journal File Photo

The men’s volleyball team continued to charge towards the playoffs with victories over the Ryerson Rams and the York Lions last weekend. The wins pushed the Gaels’ winning streak to six games and gave them sole possession of second place in the OUA with a record of 15-3 with one weekend remaining in regular season play.

Outside hitter Joren Zeeman recorded a career high 30 points, including 26 kills, three service aces and a solo block against Ryerson, leading Queen’s to a 25-20, 25-23, 22-25, 25-27, 15-10 victory. Outside Niko Rukavina also had eight digs.

Despite letting Ryerson back in to the match on Saturday, head coach Brenda Willis said she was pleased with her team’s play over the weekend.

“We got up 2-0 against Ryerson and I thought we were playing quite well and had good control of the match,” Willis said. “There was a point in the third set when [outside hitter] Brain Fautley, who had been playing very well, tweaked his ankle and needed to come out.

“That seemed to burst our bubble and I thought we played less fluidly for the balance of the match.”

The following day, Rukavina continued his strong play with 12 kills and nine digs to put away York in straight sets.

“On Sunday, [York] wasn’t quite as strong physically,” Willis said. “They’re smaller and they have very good ball control but they have trouble scoring. We were just too big for them.”

Zeeman’s dominance was apparent over the weekend as he added another 14 kills on Sunday against the Lions.

“Joren was pretty much unstoppable,” Willis said. “He did some pretty special things this weekend.” Willis said the team is focusing on passing the ball well and serving tactfully to their opponents.

“We want to be a tough serving, big blocking team and that hasn’t changed,” she said. “We feel that when we pass well, no one can stop our offence. I’ve got great weapons at every position and an outstanding setter, so as long as we pass well, we can take advantage of all of that.”

Queen’s will host the McMaster Marauders and Guelph Gryphons this weekend, both of whom hold a 14-4 record and sit tied for third place in the OUA.

“We’re sitting in full possession of second place at 15-3,” she said. “Both Guelph and Mac are right on our heels at 14-4 and we host both of them this weekend, so those games are huge. We’re really happy to be at home.”

Zeeman said the Gaels are continuing to work on skills like serving, but their biggest tests will come against opponents close to them in the OUA standings.

“Just playing tougher opponents heading in to the playoffs will be a really big help for us in terms of our headspace,” he said. “Guelph and McMaster definitely provide a tougher opponent than teams we’ve been playing of late.”

Zeeman said he hopes to maintain the team’s strong play right in to the playoffs.

“For any team heading in to the playoffs on a high and having won the last few games is good for confidence,” he said. “We want to go in to the playoffs winning and not losing to teams that are around us in the standings.”

The team has adopted a new mentality to help them focus and continue to come out on top. Zeeman said the team’s motto of “geeve [sic] the game” has been essential in calming the team down in their run to the playoffs. According to, ‘geeve’ means “to be apathetic” or “to not care.”

The team hopes this attitude will keep things in perspective:

“We were trying to adopt the idea that a game is a game,” he said. “We wanted to play carefree and play relaxed with no other worries.”

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