Home-court at stake after losses

Battle for playoff position looms after Gaels drop pair

Two road losses have left men’s volleyball fighting for a home playoff game going into the final weekend of regular season play.

The Gaels (11-7) lost in four sets last weekend to both the Western Mustangs (10-8) and the Windsor Lancers (8-10). They’re tied for fourth place in the OUA with the York Lions (11-7).

Whichever team finishes fourth will host an OUA quarterfinal match later in the month, while the fifth-place squad will play on the road.

Fourth-year middle blocker Scott Brunet said Queen’s had both the Western and Windsor games within their grasp.

“It was definitely a bit of a step back for us,” Brunet said. “We have been playing very, very well and went into the weekend with a lot of confidence.”

Consistent, aggressive serving was an issue for the Gaels in both matches.

All four sets of the Lancers game were closely contested, but the Gaels only walked away with one. Windsor won 25-22, 22-25, 25-22 and 25-22.

“It was close all the way,” Brunet said. “They played a great game – we just weren’t quite up to our normal selves and couldn’t close it out.”

Outside hitter Philippe Goyer had 13 kills and four digs for Queen’s, while fellow outside hitter Mike Tomlinson added nine kills and 11 digs. Brunet had nine kills and seven blocks.

Friday’s game against Western initially looked promising, with the Gaels taking the first set 25-18.

Queen’s generated offence in spurts during that set, going on a six-point run early and a four-point run late in the frame.

The Mustangs came out ahead 25-19 in the second set and captured the third 25-21.

A poor start to the fourth and final set put the Gaels in a hole they were unable to escape from, leading to a 25-13 loss and overall defeat.

Gaels outside hitter Markus Trence had 16 kills and four digs and libero Ivo Dramov had 10 digs.

Though Tomlinson contributed 10 kills, he also had 10 errors. Goyer struggled offensively with two kills and nine errors, despite playing a solid defensive game with seven digs and three blocks.

Brunet, who had seven kills and nine blocks, said he was pleased with his defensive play.

“[It was] kind of nice to see it all come together,” he said. “Unfortunately, it didn’t get us any wins.”

Brunet pointed to his serving as a weak point.

“I can definitely serve a lot tougher. I can be a very aggressive server and that’s something I didn’t do very well on over the weekend — put in way too many easy serves for them.”

The men head to Hamilton this weekend to take on the OUA-leading McMaster Marauders (17-1). McMaster beat the Gaels at home only a few weeks ago.

Brunet said the Gaels looked strong in that match, despite losing in straight sets.

“We played very well, which was very encouraging to us to know we could compete with a team like that,” Brunet said.

“They’re big and physical. Playing them, you just have to be so disciplined with the blocking and have a real trust between our defence and the block in order to stop them.”

The Gaels’ second game of the weekend is against the Guelph Gryphons (8-10).

“[They’re] a team we definitely have to serve strong against because they have strong middles,” Brunet said. “That’s the game we have to focus on.”

OUA Men’s Volleyball Standings

1. McMaster (17-1)

2. Ryerson (13-5)

3. Waterloo (13-6)

T-4. Queen’s (11-7)

T-4. York (11-7)

6. Western (10-8)

T-7. Guelph (8-10)

T-7. Windsor (8-10)

9. Nipissing (5-13)

10. Toronto (4-15)

11. RMC (0-18)

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