Consistent splits

Third straight weekend with win and loss for Gaels

Another 1-1 weekend kept men’s volleyball in playoff contention.

The Gaels edged past their positional rivals, the Windsor Lancers, 17-25, 25-18, 25-21, 18-25, 16-14 on Friday, before falling to a strong Western Mustangs 25-23, 20-25, 22-25, 17-25 on Saturday.

With Windsor only two points behind the sixth-place Gaels, Friday’s matchup had playoff implications.

The Gaels started out slow, mustering only six kills in the first set. Outside hitter Marcus Trence was brought in late in the set to shake things up and stayed in for the rest of the contest.

Gaels head coach Brenda Willis took note of the hostile Windsor crowd.

“The fans were very active. It was a good opportunity for us to practice focus,” she said.

The men began serving more consistently, and took the second and third set. The Gaels stifled the Lancer offense by controlling the middle of the court.

This aggressive play petered out in the fourth set, which Windsor took by seven points.

“We weren’t playing with the level of urgency we needed in that set,” Willis said.

Queen’s committed nine errors in the fourth, allowing Windsor to hang around for a fifth and deciding round.

Up 13-9 at one point, the Gaels allowed Windsor to claw their way back to 14-14. Gaels outside hitter Mike Tomlinson saved his team, ending the contest with two purposeful kills.

The men responded keenly to pressure, but allowed themselves to be complacent with leads.

“This group needs to push more fiercely when we have the lead,” Willis said.

Altogether, Tomlinson had 23 kills and 13 digs, suggesting his pre-Christmas injuries are now behind him. Middle blocker Darren Edwards added 11 kills and four blocks while setter Jamie Wright contributed 46 assists.

The Gaels moved on to London the following day to take on the 11-3 Mustangs. These teams had already met twice: Queen’s won a preseason matchup in October, but lost a November regular season contest at the ARC.

Despite a strong opening effort, the Gaels were unable to maintain steady offensive pressure into the later sets.

Queen’s offensive rhythm faltered early in the second due to serving errors, and Western took advantage of this. Defense wasn’t the issue, as the Gaels played well in the middle.

A tremendous offensive outpouring from Tomlinson made him a target for Western blockers, but the other Gaels were unable to exploit this preferential treatment.

“Our power hitters just weren’t connecting with any level of effectiveness,” Willis said.

Tomlinson finished the match with 23 kills, with outside hitter Will Sidgwick and libero Ivo Dramov each supplying 10 digs.

Next weekend, the men will meet the Nipissing Lakers (2-12) and the York Lions (10-4) in a pair of road games. Queen’s will look to further separate themselves from the Lakers and remain in playoff contention.

OUA Standings

1. McMaster [14-0]
T2. Waterloo [11-3]
T2. Western [11-3]
4. York [10-4]
5. Ryerson [9-5]
6. Queen’s [6-8]
T7. Guelph [5-9]
T7. Windsor [5-9]
9. Toronto [4-10]
10. Nipissing [2-12]
11. RMC [0-14]

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