Rough road ahead

After sweeping Lakehead, province’s best await

With their eyes on the fourth spot in the OUA East, women’s volleyball is hoping to make a mark in the coming weeks as they face tough inter-division competition.

Queen’s improved to 4-2 this weekend as they beat the Lakehead Thunderwolves in three straight sets. The squad earned victory by a greater margin in each set, winning 25-22, 25-19 and 25-13.

Head coach Joely Christian-Macfarlane said the match was the team’s most consistent of the season.

“I was really happy with our execution in terms of how we managed the match,” she said.

Outside hitter Kelsey Bishop led the way offensively, recording 12 kills in the match, while rookie setter Gabrielle Down contributed 29 assists. On the defensive side, Brett Hagarty’s 10 digs led the team.

Christian-Macfarlane said the team geared their offence towards Lakehead’s smaller left-side blockers.

“We ran our offence to attack what their weaknesses were,” she said. “So Kelsey got quite a few more balls than anyone else on the court.”

Despite the victory, it’s going to be an uphill battle for the women’s volleyball team to accomplish their goal of finishing in fourth. Over the next two weeks, they face three of the top four teams in the OUA East to close off the 2013 portion of their season.

The fourth-place Ryerson Rams boast a 4-0 record in their home barn, and the third-place Toronto Varsity Blues have a 3-0 record at home.

To top it all off, the following weekend, the Gaels host the second-best team in the OUA, the Ottawa Gee-Gees. Ottawa has gone an impressive 3-1 on the road this year, with their only loss coming to the undefeated York Lions.

Christian-Macfarlane acknowledges the competition that comes with playing against top-tier squads.

“Those matches will be a challenge for us in terms of playing at that level all three matches,” she said. “It’s important that we’re strict and disciplined about our execution on our side of the court, and not too worried about what they’re doing on their side of the court.”

On the plus side, Queen’s has played two fewer games than all of the teams they will play before the break. A strong push now could lead to a major rise in the standings.

The team is also coming off a rather light weekend, where they played only one game and earned a quick victory in straight sets.

The key matchup for this weekend is the Ryerson game, due to its potential impact on the OUA East standings. A Queen’s victory would close the gap between the Gaels and the Rams, tying them in fourth, while a loss would widen it to four points, making the Gaels road tougher for the remainder of the season.

The Gaels will enter the contest against the Rams riding a two-game and six-set win streak.

— With files from Sean Sutherland

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