Cross-town victory

Playoff chances reinforced with RMC sweep

Middle blocker Niki Slikboer led the Gaels with 10 kills against the RMC Paladins. She also added three digs and a block.
Middle blocker Niki Slikboer led the Gaels with 10 kills against the RMC Paladins. She also added three digs and a block.

Women’s volleyball found themselves back in the win column last Friday.

One week after the York Lions snapped Queen’s six-game winning streak, the Gaels swept the RMC Paladins to bolster their record and stay in the running for an OUA East playoff spot.

The Paladins (2-12) failed to take a single set, while the Gaels (10-4) saw improved attacking from the middle of the court.

Middle blocker Niki Slikboer had 10 points, three digs and a block, with fellow middle Katie Hagarty adding eight points, four digs and two blocks.

“It’s nice to see some production out of the middle, because normally, we’ve been more of an outside hitting team,” said Gaels head coach Michael Ling. “We’re trying to get the middle more involved.”

Queen’s won each set handily: 25-17, 25-15 and 25-16.

One of the keys to victory was libero Becky Wilson. The third-year had 24 digs on the defensive side of the ball.

“She played very well,” Ling said. “She is really dynamic and really able to read the play quite well. Her instincts are quite good.

“She happens to just be in the right place at the right time to touch the ball and extend rallies for us, so she definitely contributed to our success.”

Queen’s shut out the Paladins on Nov. 7 in their first matchup of the season, effectively putting a February 2014 loss behind them. That loss came in five sets and eliminated the Gaels from playoff contention.

“Going into it, there was baggage from years past with some of the veterans,” Ling said.

“Our last match with RMC was pretty spirited because of the cross-town rivalry,” he added. “And there was some of that energy to this game.”

Ling said last season’s loss to the Paladins put “a little bit of fire in their bellies to prove a point.”

Despite RMC’s poor record, Ling credited them with maintaining a warrior spirit, adding that they can never be counted out of a game.

“They never give up and I told [my players] that with that military type of attitude, it’s always a fight, it’s always a battle,” he said.

“We had to go in ready for a battle and our mantra had to be ‘never give up’ as well.”

The women host the Toronto Varsity Blues (13-0) and the Ryerson Rams (11-3) this weekend. Both of the Gaels’ opponents sit ahead of them in a competitive OUA East, and Queen’s is pushing to catch both squads.

“Every match from this point forward is a tough one because everybody is within striking distance of a playoff spot,” Ling said. “So playing in your division is obviously really tough.”

OUA East Women’s Volleyball Standings

1. Toronto (13-0)

2. Ottawa (11-3)

3. Ryerson (10-3)

4. Queen’s (10-4)

5. York (8-5)

6. Nipissing (5-8)

7. RMC (2-12)

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