A taste of competition

First-years see plenty of game time in four-set win over RMC

Outside hitter Ben Harper (lower left) started alongside fellow first year Dylan Hunt.
Outside hitter Ben Harper (lower left) started alongside fellow first year Dylan Hunt.
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Youthful talent carried men’s volleyball to victory last Friday.

Head coach Brenda Willis started first-year outside hitters Ben Harper and Dylan Hunt and second-year Aidan Roos in the Gaels’ four-set victory over the winless RMC Paladins, while veterans Mike Tomlinson and Philippe Goyer initially watched from the sidelines.

“We put out a lineup that hadn’t played a lot, just to see how they would fare,” Willis said. “Try to evaluate them in a game I thought we had a good shot of winning.”

The Gaels (4-4) controlled the first half of the match before faltering in the third set. Willis brought in the starters to finish up, on the way to a 25-10, 25-18, 23-25 and 25-9 victory.

The first two sets went smoothly for Queen’s. Third-year outside hitter Markus Trence hit well and the younger players held their own.

“First set I think RMC was really tentative, they didn’t go after anything and it made it a little bit easy for us,” Willis said. “And then they definitely played better in the second and I thought we held our own just fine.” RMC (0-8) closed the gap in the third set, though, taking advantage of Queen’s complacency.

“We seemed to relax and lose focus, which is not an uncommon thing for young players,” Willis said. “You get a little comfortable when you’re up 2-0.”

RMC clawed their way back from a four-point hole, tying the game at 23 before scoring another two to win the set.

“We made a couple errors right at the end that we shouldn’t be making,” Willis said.

After watching the younger players struggle, she inserted her top players for the fourth set, allowing them to pick apart the Paladins and end the match quickly.

“I didn’t want to risk it going to five [sets],” Willis said. “Just reading the confidence level of guys in the huddle, I felt that they weren’t as confident as they needed to be.”

Trence generated the most offence with 16 kills and Tomlinson added eight kills of his own, but the real story of the match was Roos’ play.

The 6’10” middle blocker racked up eight kills, six assisted blocks and two digs.

“Aidan played great,” Willis said. “I was particularly impressed with his serving. He served very well.”

The other young players played their parts well. Hunt had five kills, three digs and three blocks, while Harper added two kills and two blocks.

Willis, for the most part, was pleased with the pair, adding that gaining experience will help the two rookies improve.

“When things were in control, I thought they did a very good job,” she said. “The issue is more when things got a little more hectic, out of sync and out of system, they’re not making the adjustments yet that they need to, to be consistent.”

Willis saw the RMC game as a chance to push her younger players — with an eye toward the future.

“I believe as a coach you’re always coaching your current team to win but you’re also finding opportunities to develop your future team,” she said. “When you’re playing a team that hasn’t won in the league yet, you look for those opportunities.”

This weekend, the Gaels are on the road to wrap up the 2014 half of their campaign. They face the York Lions (5-3) on Saturday before travelling up north to take on the Nipissing Lakers (1-7) Sunday.

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