Strong, then stagnant

Offence clicks in weekend’s first match, but struggles Sunday

The Waterloo Warriors established a strong blocking game to defeat the Gaels in four sets.
The Waterloo Warriors established a strong blocking game to defeat the Gaels in four sets.
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A promising start to men’s volleyball’s weekend was spoiled by a lackadaisical effort in their second match.

The Gaels (3-4) were on fire Saturday, upsetting the Guelph Gryphons (7-2) — the OUA’s second-best team — in straight sets. The good spirits didn’t last, though, as they dropped a winnable game against the Waterloo Warriors (5-4) the next night.

In the weekend’s opening match, Queen’s took two sets before Guelph was able to mobilize any real threat, winning by a final score of 25-17, 25-18 and 25-23.

Head coach Brenda Willis said her team took charge of the match.

“I thought the boys followed the game plan very well,” Willis said. “It set a bar for what is a good game for Queen’s.”

The Gaels started off strong, winning the first five points of the opening set before claiming the frame. Outside hitter Mike Tomlinson closed out the second set with a powerful spike assisted by setter Jamie Wright.

While Guelph took an early lead in the third set, the Gaels came back strong. The set remained tight until the end, with Queen’s holding on to sweep the match.

Willis said facing off against a Gryphons squad that was 6-1 heading into the weekend gave her team confidence to take chances.

“It’s the kind of game where you can play freely because you’ve got nothing to lose,” she said.

Willis added that she was impressed with Wright’s play. The second-year setter had 33 assists and six digs against Guelph.

“I thought Jamie Wright did a really good job of running the offence,” she said. “Distribution was exactly what we hoped for.”

Tomlinson recorded a team-high 15 kills in the match, adding four blocks as well. Fellow outside hitters Markus Trence and Philippe Goyer had strong matches, registering 12 and 11 kills apiece.

The Gaels couldn’t maintain their momentum against a Waterloo team they had swept on the road one week prior.

Queen’s lost Sunday’s match in four sets: 15-25, 23-25, 27-25 and 26-28.

Willis said her team went into the game feeling too comfortable, and lacked a sense of urgency as a result.

“I think they thought, ‘as long as we show up and play we’ll be fine’, and I think we have to do more than that,” she said. “I don’t think they got fired up enough for the game on Sunday.”

Waterloo overwhelmed the Gaels in the first set and closed it out with a five-point run.

“Waterloo ran a very good offence, much better than they did [on Nov. 8, a 3-0 Gaels win]. They kept us off balance so it was kind of a frustrating second match,” Willis said.

The ensuing sets were much closer, with two of the final three needing extra points.

“We were a little more predictable,” Willis said. “I think [Queen’s power hitters] both had a much tougher time than they did on Saturday.”

Libero Ivo Dramov had 15 digs in the Guelph game and another three against Waterloo. He sits third in the OUA with 79 total digs, averaging a province-high 3.04 digs per set.

Queen’s takes on the RMC Paladins (0-7) tonight at 8 p.m. The Gaels swept the Paladins both times they faced off last year.

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