Women's volleyball makes early exit at nationals

The women’s volleyball team’s national medal hopes are over.

The Gaels fell in straight sets to the second-seeded University of British Columbia Thunderbirds in the CIS quarter-final on Friday afternoon in Hamilton.

Queen’s came to its first-ever national tournament on an eight-game winning streak that culminated in an OUA gold medal last weekend. But the Thunderbirds — four-time defending national champions — were relentless on Friday, winning 25-19, 25-19, 25-16.

Gaels outside hitter and co-captain Becky Billings was named Queen’s MVP for Friday’s game, recording nine kills and nine digs. She said her team started the game strong before the Thunderbirds pulled away.

“The first set we stuck within two or three points,” she said. “But we forgot the focus on the little things … we were a little too timid and nervous.”

The Thunderbirds struggled to deal with the Gaels’ hard-hitting power game early on, but they recovered halfway through the first set and never looked back. Billings said her team missed a chance to take control of the game in the opening set.

“It was a missed opportunity,” she said. “They just got a couple big hits and we lost focus … next thing you knew it was game over.”

Despite the loss, Billings said the Gaels showed they could compete with the Thunderbirds, who were ranked first in Canada before losing the Canada West final to the University of Alberta Pandas last weekend.

“They’re an awesome team, but we can play with them,” she said. “There were a lot of points where we proved that we belong here.”

Outside hitter and co-captain Natalie Gray posted nine kills and 11 digs while outside hitter Katie Hagarty had four kills and 11 digs.

With the loss, the Gaels take on the Trinity Western Spartans in the consolation semifinal tomorrow afternoon.

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