One last stand

Gaels host Western, Windsor to close out season

Rookie outside hitter Tyler Scheerhoorn has played more minutes than expected this season due to injuries to veteran players.
Rookie outside hitter Tyler Scheerhoorn has played more minutes than expected this season due to injuries to veteran players.

The men’s volleyball coach has stopped waiting for her sidelined players to return.

Going into the last weekend of the regular season, the men’s volleyball team has ruled out two injured fifth-years, outside hitter Bryan Fautley and setter Dan Rosenbaum.

“We’re at a point where we’re going with the guys we have,” coach Brenda Willis said. “We can’t wait on injured players. We’re running out of time.”

Rosenbaum has been ruled out for the season. Fautley — who played a single set against the Royal Military College Paladins last week — won’t play this weekend.

The Gaels went 5-4 without the duo during the first half of the season, but they’ve steadily found their form since the winter break. Setter Jackson Dakin has recorded over 30 assists in the past 11 games that he’s started, while Alex Oneid — only 5’11 and normally a libero — has filled in well for Fautley at outside hitter.

The Gaels take a four-game win streak into the final two games of the season this weekend.

But they’re up against the top-ranked Western Mustangs tonight and the Windsor Lancers tomorrow. The Lancers are currently tied with the Gaels for third place in the OUA at 10-6.

“We’ve been getting better every time we play, but this is our first big test in a long time,” Willis said.

Two wins will clinch third-place in the OUA and a home game in the first round of playoffs. It also means the Gaels won’t have to face Western again until the OUA finals — if they win their first-round game, they’ll take on the second-place McMaster Marauders in the semifinal.

“Certainly being [third-place] is looking more comfortable given Western’s record relative to Mac,” Willis said. “They play relatively error-free and they serve very tough.”

The Gaels haven’t had any success against the top teams this season — their six losses have come against the OUA’s top-five teams, while they’ve won all their games against opponents ranked sixth through 10th. They lost to both the Mustangs and the Lancers on a road trip in early November.

The Gaels have lost twice in straight sets, once in four sets and three times in five sets — in every five-set game, they led by a set before dropping the final three.

Fifth-year outside hitter Joren Zeeman, currently leading the OUA with 4.4 points per set, said the Gaels have gotten over their injury crisis.

“We’ve figured out some of the issues we were dealing with earlier in the year,” he said. “We can beat anyone in the OUA as long as we play well.”

— with files from Aryssah Stankevitsch

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