Women’s volleyball suffers 3-1 loss to Western in quarterfinals

Head coach Ryan Ratushniak hopeful for next season

The Gaels haven’t won a first round matchup since 2011-12.
The Gaels haven’t won a first round matchup since 2011-12.

Women’s volleyball were eliminated from OUA playoff contention on Saturday afternoon following a 3-1 quarterfinal loss to the Western Mustangs.

The Gaels — who lost their only regular season meeting with the Mustangs 3-0 in late November — have yet to win a first round playoff match since the 2011-12 season.

“Definitely, at this time right now, there’s disappointment from our entire team,” head coach Ryan Ratushniak told The Journal on Monday, following his team’s loss on the weekend. “I don’t feel our losing in the quarterfinal is an indication of the season we had and the progress we made as a team.”

Despite their early exit from the playoffs, it’s tough to ignore the strides Queen’s has made as a program this year. The team’s 13-6 regular season record is its best since 2011-12, where the Gaels went 13-5 and won the OUA championship.

“I think it would have validated our season a lot more had we at least made it to the final four,” Ratushniak said.

Reflecting on the result against Western, Ratushniak said the Gaels had a lapse in mental execution.

“We couldn’t do the things and execute well where we needed to,” Ratushniak said. “It was one of our weakest matches [this season] from a performance standpoint and one of [Western’s] better matches.”

Although they were the OUA’s fifth best team in hitting percentage at .196 per cent this season, the Gaels hit a meager .060 on Saturday, their third lowest recorded percentage this year. Their worst single in-game percentage — 0.20 — came against Western in the regular season. 

“I knew we were a better team than when we first played Western, but having said that, it was never going to be easy — and it wasn’t,” Ratushniak said.

He added the loss was “more a product of mentally not being aggressive enough” than anything else.

“It’s not just, say, setting or attacking … it doesn’t just come down to that,” Ratushniak said. “It comes down to reception, to defending balls in areas that we can [in turn] run good transition.”

In spite of the loss to Western, the coach said “there’s a lot of good things to build on” going into next year. 

“I feel like we did come a long way in our game technically, tactically and most importantly, mentally.”

Ratushniak only began his duties as head coach of the Gaels in mid-August after being hired in late July. Now that he’ll have a full summer to build a roster and find recruits — compared to the shortened offseason he just endured — he said he expects the 2018 summer to be different.

With only one player — masters student Shannon Neville — ineligible to return next year due to graduation and ample time to recruit, Ratushniak said his team “will be, in many ways, stronger next year.”

“We can start at a different point and continue to build,” he said.

“There will be a better understanding … They’ll know what to expect from me and I’ll know what to expect from them.”

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