First-seeded Gaels looking for Forsyth Cup

Men's volleyball brimming with confidence following nine-game winning streak

Queen’s will host the OUA Final Four this weekend.
Queen’s will host the OUA Final Four this weekend.

Following a gritty win over an upstart Guelph team in the quarterfinals, men’s volleyball is flying high heading into a Final Four showdown featuring some of the best talent in Ontario. 

Queen’s will host the championships on Friday and Saturday—the first time they’ve done so since 2010-11.

“Honestly, we’re pretty excited,” fourth-year Zac Hutcheson told The Journal ahead of their slate of weekend games. “The [game against Guelph] was a good opportunity to prepare for the Final Four, and we played with a lot of grit and determination.”

Queen’s (15-3) had to dig deep to overcome a surprisingly tenacious Guelph team (8-9), who showed heart and resiliency as it climbed back from being down 2-0 to tie the game. Despite this, the Gaels regained their composure late in the match, winning the final set 23-21, saving three match points. 

However, despite a narrow margin of victory against the Gryphons, Queen’s feels confident in their number-one seeding, and will look to continue their staggering nine-game win streak through the weekend.

“I think there was more pressure in the quarterfinals against Guelph. So, going into this weekend, I think there’s less pressure,” Hutcheson said.

Still, expectations will be high for a Queen’s team playing in front of a home crowd. On top of that, the Gaels will play the University of Toronto in the semi-finals and potentially the McMaster Marauders in the finals—two teams they’ve defeated earlier in the season. 

“I think we’re pretty confident, especially after the game against Guelph. With the Toronto matchup, we played pretty good defense when we played them before, and we know with McMaster we need to shut down their big guns,” Hutcheson said when asked about potential opponents Queen’s could line up against, as well as how the Tricolour-friendly crowd could play a role in their outcome. 

“We’re going in with a ton of confidence, especially since we’re playing at home.” 

Beyond the role of their exceptional talent, the strong bonds and overall chemistry between this Queen’s team could be what gives them the competitive edge in close matches. They already have the talent: Hutcheson is second in the OUA with 266 kills this season, while second-year Zane Grossinger is second in assists per set with an average of 9.97; Head Coach Gabriel de Groot was recently awarded Coach of the Year in the OUA East. The team’s cohesion has progressed over the course of the season, Hutcheson said.

“Honestly, this team has been one of the most fun to play on, in terms of team spirit and chemistry. We all believe in each other, so when we’re on the court and we’re having issues, we’ve been good at figuring it out,” he said. 

“Everyone on this team knows their role [...] it’s a great environment to be part of. Whether they’re on the bench, or coming in to serve, we all play as a team.” 

Queen’s will begin their Forsythe Cup bid on Saturday against U of T at 3:00 p.m. If they win, they’ll play the winner of McMaster vs. Windsor on Sunday afternoon—if they lose, they take on the loser for OUA bronze.

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