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Gaels finish in OUA’s top four after losing championship core to graduation

Second-year middle blocker Tyler Scheerhoorn ranked sixth in the OUA with 38.5 total blocks.
Second-year middle blocker Tyler Scheerhoorn ranked sixth in the OUA with 38.5 total blocks.

An inexperienced roster had most people counting out men’s volleyball early this season.

They couldn’t defend their OUA title, but the young team put up a fight nonetheless.

With 11 players sporting fewer than two years of OUA experience, the team’s objective was simply to make the playoffs — but all-star play from fifth-year setter Jackson Dakin and rookie libero Ivo Dramov forced the Gaels to reevaluate their goals.

Although their outlook remained long-term, they shifted their short-term focus to earning home court advantage in the playoffs.

Five-time OUA Coach of the Year Brenda Willis helped the team achieve both their seasonal goals, guiding the Gaels to an 11-7 record and fourth place in the OUA.

The team showed continued improvement throughout the season and secured home court advantage for the playoffs against the York Lions — a team they had beaten twice previously.

The Gaels season ended with a hard-fought quarterfinal defeat, losing in overtime of the fifth set. With nearly the entire roster returning next year, the York loss could serve as a valuable lesson.

Outside hitters Mike Tomlinson and Philippe Goyer lead the offensive charge, ranking fifth and eighth in the OUA in points per game. Defensively, Tyler Scheerhoorn and Scott Brunet shut the door, both registering over 35 blocks.

Dakin capped off his career by being named to the OUA First All-Star Team. Dramov was named to the All-Rookie Team — a promising sign for the young libero heading into next season.

With Dakin gone, second-year setter Matt Bonshor will most likely run the offense in 2013-14. The young setter showed promise this season when given the opportunity, most notably in two solid outings against RMC.

Continued contributions from Tomlinson, Goyer and Dramov will be essential to the team’s offensive performance going forward.

Long-term goals still dominate for the Gaels, but with the calibre of play they displayed this year, the long-term may be closer than they thought.

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