Women’s volleyball beat nationally-ranked team for first time this season

Gaels sweep series over Brock, McMaster; eclipse 2016-17 win total

The Gaels have won seven of their last ten games.
The Gaels have won seven of their last ten games.
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After wins against the Brock Badgers and the nationally sixth-ranked McMaster Marauders, the women’s volleyball team made a statement to the rest of the OUA this weekend — they’re ready to compete against the best.

“It feels great,” head coach Ryan Ratushniak said after the Gaels’ upset straight sets win against the Marauders. “We put in a lot of work, we believed in ourselves. It was a really good effort from the players.”

The weekend series sweep saw Queen’s improve to an 11-4 record and maintain their second place standing in the OUA East. Not only have they won five of their last six games, but with only four match-ups left on the schedule, the team has already eclipsed their win total (10) from the 2016-17 season.

When asked what sets this team apart, Ratushniak said the Gaels’ resolve has improved steadily week by week.

“It’s only getting better and better,” he said. “I find that after the break and the start of 2018, everything’s really sinking in.”

The Gaels’ win against McMaster marked their first against a nationally-ranked side this season. Beyond the result, Queen’s recent play is a testament to what Ratushniak has preached to his team since he was hired in the summer of 2017.

In early October, Ratushniak told The Journal he hoped his players would “[stay] in the moment and just focus on what [we’re] doing right now.” This approach has seemed to work wonders for the Gaels.

Currently, they’re the best in the OUA at service aces per set (2.35), second in kills (11.60) and points (15.9) per set. They're also third in total assists (573). 

Although it’s clear the team's improved on the court, Ratushniak is very impressed with how they handle themselves in pressure situations off the court.

“Mentally we’re getting stronger and I think that’s the biggest difference,” he said. “We’re a lot more resilient than we were at the start of the season and so we’re able to respond better to making mistakes.”

Ratushniak said the strides his team has made off the court don’t go unappreciated. He’s particularly happy about how the Gaels prepare themselves in the weeks leading up to games, no matter the opponent.

“Just the mental toughness of our players and the preparation they put in has been so impressive … I couldn’t be prouder of them.”

The Gaels close three of their last four regular season games at home, where they boast a 6-1 record — second best in the OUA. Despite their strong play in the ARC, Ratushniak made clear his team has only scratched the surface of their potential.

“Our confidence is rising,” he said. “We feel like we can compete in the OUA — it’s not easy, but we feel like we can compete. And we proved it [this] weekend.”  

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