Season ends on high note

The men’s volleyball team rebounds with win over Guelph

The men’s volleyball team will be at the ARC Saturday in the quarter-finals against the Warriors.
The men’s volleyball team will be at the ARC Saturday in the quarter-finals against the Warriors.

The men’s volleyball team wrapped up the regular season in style on Sunday, easily overcoming the Guelph Gryphons 26-24, 25-17 and 25-21. Outside hitter Joren Zeeman led the team in kills with 17. The win sees the Gaels end their regular season with a 16-4 record heading into the playoffs.

On Saturday against the McMaster Marauders, Zeeman put up 23 kills, but the Gaels still fell 25-19, 22-25, 25-20, 22-25, 9-15 to their rivals in a five-set heartbreaker. The loss allowed the Marauders to move ahead of the Gaels into second place, by virtue of the head-to-head tiebreaker.

Coming off that tough loss, the Gaels demonstrated an impressive ability to bounce back from adversity and earn an important victory.

The Gaels went into Sunday’s game against Guelph with both teams holding 15-4 records. Their resounding victory means that the Gaels will begin the playoffs in third place and will avoid facing first-placed Western in the quarter-finals.

Head coach Brenda Willis said that she was particularly impressed by her team’s ability to learn from their mistakes on Saturday.

“Although the opponent was better yesterday, I thought that we made it a little bit easy for them,” she said. “We didn’t mix up our shots, and we got predictable on offence. Today, we focused on more variance in individual shots, and more creative distribution of the ball. We just tried to be more unpredictable.”

While the team’s star players shone against Guelph, Willis said that Sunday’s victory exemplified the strength and depth of her roster, an attribute that has defined the Gaels all season.

“This season has been a really deep team effort,” said Willis. “We had a lot of injuries to veteran players this season, but we have some great talent on the bench. Today, [outside] Will Sidgwick came in at a critical time, and did really well. ... The 16-4 record is not just a reflection of how good our top guys are, but also of how good our depth is.”

Zeeman continued his hot streak all weekend, leading the Gaels in kills in both games. He said recent opponents have catered to his strengths.

“The last four teams we’ve played aren’t very good at defending the right side, which is my position,” he said. “A big part of our game plan has been to abuse that, and I’ve benefitted from that.”

Setter Dan Rosenbaum also had a big weekend, recording 45 assists on Saturday and earning player of the game honours on Sunday. Having spent much of the season out injured, Rosenbaum said he is happy to be contributing to the team’s success.

“For me, I’m really happy to be back on the court, after having sat out the first half with injuries,” he said. “It’s fun to be a setter for this team because we have so many talented players. On any given play, I can set anyone and feel comfortable that they will put the ball away.”

The Gaels wrapped up home court advantage for this week’s quarter-final, and they host the Waterloo Warriors on Saturday. The last time these teams met in Kingston, the Warriors pulled off a shock upset, taking down the Gaels in four sets.

With that loss still fresh in their memories, Rosenbaum said that the Gaels will be seeking revenge against the Warriors.

“We’re going to be ready for them,” he said. “A few weeks ago, Waterloo came into our barn and beat us, so I’m glad that we now have a chance to make things right.”

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