Win far from impressive

Men go 1-1 opening weekend in Toronto

Outside hitter Phillippe Goyer recorded 10 kills during two games over the weekend.
Outside hitter Phillippe Goyer recorded 10 kills during two games over the weekend.
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An ugly win and a shutout loss were the results of men’s volleyball’s Toronto road trip last weekend.

The Gaels (1-3) lost in three quick sets to the Ryerson Rams (3-1), before taking on the Toronto Varsity Blues (1-2) on Saturday. Queen’s won that match in five sets after starting slowly.

“It was an ugly win,” said Gaels head coach Brenda Willis. “I’m not happy with where we’re at and we have lots of things to improve on.”

Queen’s took the first set of the Toronto game 25-20, but dropped the next two by matching scores of 25-23.

The Gaels regained momentum late in the third set, and while they were unable to steal, the charge did carry over into the fourth and fifth frames.

“We really connected at the level that we should in the fourth [set], and it was pretty decisive,” Willis said.

The second and third sets were a different story.

“They were really, really close,” Willis said. “But man-for-man, I think we shouldn’t be that close with Toronto.”

One explanation for the substandard performance was the absence of fourth-year outside hitter Mike Tomlinson, who sat out with a shoulder injury.

Tomlinson has only played two matches this season, registering 33 kills in that span.

“It’s definitely a different look with Mike Tomlinson out of the lineup,” Willis said. “The block has to worry so much about him because he is such an offensive threat.”

Tomlinson aggravated his shoulder during the Gaels’ match with the Western Mustangs on Oct. 25. It’s unclear at this point how long he’ll be out for.

“It was pretty tough on our power hitters because we were a pretty one-dimensional offence for a good chunk of [the Toronto match],” Willis said.

Second-year outside hitter Matt Golas stepped in for Tomlinson, while fourth-year middle blocker Tyler Scheerhorn was rotated into the back row.

“[Golas] did a reasonable job, but he can’t score at the level that Mike does,” Willis said.

One of the success stories from the Toronto game was second-year setter Jamie Wright, who came off the bench and appeared to stabilize the offence.

Like last year, Wright continues to battle with fellow sophomore Thomas Ellison for playing time.

“I thought Thomas Ellison had made huge strides from last season to this season,” Willis said. “But we still seem to find a better rhythm with Jamie.”

Willis described their setting position as a “revolving door”, with no one player able to hold down the fort.

Without a consistent setter, irregular offensive output could continue.

In Saturday’s game against Ryerson, the men were dropped in three sets: 25-17, 25-19 and 26-24.

The Gaels faced Ryerson twice in the 2013-14 regular season, losing the first match 3-2 before sweeping the Rams in the season’s second-last game.

The Gaels travel this weekend to face the Waterloo Warriors (3-2), the same team that knocked them out of last year’s post-season.

Willis said her team knows the Warriors pretty well after playing two close matches against them during the pre-season.

“I think they’re a beatable team, but we have to take care of our side of the net,” she said.

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