One & done

Four-set loss ends underwhelming season

With every starter except Philippe Goyer returning next year, the Gaels’ returning core has the potential to improve on this year’s first-round playoff exit during the 2015-16 season.
With every starter except Philippe Goyer returning next year, the Gaels’ returning core has the potential to improve on this year’s first-round playoff exit during the 2015-16 season.
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Men’s volleyball’s first-round playoff exit wasn’t the ending they had in mind back in September.

The Gaels dropped their post-season contest with the York Lions in four sets on Feb. 15. The game had been postponed from the previous day due to a power outage on York’s campus.

Queen’s took the opening set 25-19, before losing the remaining sets 22-25, 27-29 and 20-25.

“I think we came in as ready as we could under the circumstances,” said Gaels head coach Brenda Willis. “We served very well in the first set and we put them in trouble quite a bit.”

Willis added that the delay affected the play of the Gaels, but she was confident after winning the first set.

“I was feeling things were on track and that we’d weathered that a bit,” she said. “I don’t want to use it as an excuse.”

York went onto clinch OUA bronze and a spot at the CIS national championships.

The Gaels finished the regular season in fifth place with a 12-8 record, an improvement on last year’s 9-11 result.

They had seen success against York during the regular season, defeating the Lions in four sets on Nov. 29 and sweeping them on Jan. 11.

Willis said the team’s season goal was to qualify for the CIS championships. The Gaels had the potential to represent the OUA at nationals, but late-season losses to the Western Mustangs (11-9) and Windsor Lancers (9-11) demonstrated their offensive inconsistency.

The Gaels also dropped two winnable games at the beginning of the season — a five-set loss to Windsor and a shutout defeat against Western.

Scoring may have been inconsistent at times, but the Gaels were able to rely on a pair of heavy hitters.

Outside hitter Mike Tomlinson was fifth in the province with 3.31 kills per set, while fellow outside hitter Philippe Goyer wasn’t far behind with 2.97.

Tomlinson led the OUA with 0.44 service aces per set, leading to a spot on the league’s First All-Star Team. He’s also the OUA’s nominee for the CIS Dale Iwanoczko award — presented to an athlete who excels in athletics, academics and community service.

Third-year libero Ivo Dramov was also recognized for his individual performance this season. He was named the CIS libero of the year for his OUA-leading 3.37 digs per set.

The Gaels faced tough mid-season exhibition competition during a Christmas tournament and in a November friendly against Team Canada FTC — a senior competitive roster filled with former university players.

The men took on three of Western Canada’s top teams over the first weekend of 2015, returning to OUA play with three straight 3-0 victories.

With only one starter — left outside hitter Goyer — scheduled to graduate, Willis’ goal of a CIS championship berth could come to fruition in the 2015-16 season.

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