Trence & Hutcheson lead the drive in the OUA

Sideline commentary on the men’s volleyball strong start

The men's volleyball beat the University of Toronto 3-1 on the weekend.
The men's volleyball beat the University of Toronto 3-1 on the weekend.

Only three games into a new season, the men’s volleyball team doesn’t look phased by their veteran losses.

When Ivo Dramov, Tyler Scheerhoorn, Marko Dakic, Scott Brunet and Mike Tomlinson graduated from the program, on paper there seemed to be a lack of senior leadership on the team.

While last year was the Gaels best shot to compete for both an OUA championship and a birth into the CIS playoff tournament, this year looked like it was going to be a rebuilding year. With nine first years on the roster, the team seemed to be too young.

Through three games, the team has shown that they’re still a potential force to be reckoned with in the OUA.

Last weekend, the Gaels faced off against the Ryerson Rams and the University of Toronto Varsity Blues. Although they split the weekend against their Toronto rivals — winning against Toronto and dropping the game against Ryerson — Queen’s relied on their strengths to be competitive.

So far, the attack has leaned on outside hitter, fourth-year Markus Trence — coming off an injury that held him out of all but one game last season — and second-year Zac Hutcheson. Over the weekend, Trence recorded 40 kills over the two games, leading Queen’s with 21 kills in the loss against Ryerson. 

Hutcheson wouldn’t be out done by his older teammate in their game against Toronto, leading the way with 20 kills. Currently, Trence and Hutcheson sit third and fourth in the OUA in total kills, with 48 and 36 respectively. 

Although he was only featured in five games last year, Hutcheson managed to score 22 kills. He’s already surpassed that number by 14 through three games this year, with a .476 hitting efficiently that puts him second in the province behind McMaster’s Jayson McCarthy. 

The quality play has extended beyond these two players, and is apparent across the team. Queen’s currently leads the OUA in kills per set at 13.36 and is second in the OUA in points per set at 16.8.

Though their first matchup against Trent — whose team was just added to the league this season — was an absolute blowout, both Ryerson and Toronto are competitive teams in the East division — finishing third and fourth respectively last season, just behind the Gaels.

But the attacking power is only as strong as the play of their setter. Jamie 

Wright — the only starter left from last year’s veteran squad — has put his teammates in attacking positions. Through three games, Wright leads the OUA with 10.45 assists per set.

Having this ability to score early and often, will allow Queen’s to find themselves in close games late, no matter the situation.

And while there’s often a focus on offense in a sport like volleyball, the team’s defense is strong as well. Queen’s is second in total blocks, and third in digs per set in Ontario. 

By being able to defend, head coach Brenda Willis has created a team that has few weaknesses and more strengths.

While it may be early, the men’s volleyball team has made something clear — they will contend.

In this upcoming weekend Queen’s plays against Windsor and Western at home. Currently Windsor has yet to win a game, and Western sits at third in the OUA West with a 2-2 record.

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