Men’s volleyball head coach Brenda Willis called a huddle after her team’s loss to the McMaster Marauders on Sunday.
The Gaels were swept by McMaster, despite scoring 19 or more points in every set.
“I told them that it’s not enough to play well enough to win ‘til 20 and then let it go,” Willis said. “We didn’t do what we needed to do after 20.”
The Gaels (9-5) cruised into the match on a six-game win streak, after dismantling the RMC Paladins on the road (0-14) two days earlier.
But nothing less than a complete game is enough to topple the OUA’s perennial leader.
The Gaels struggled to control the pace against McMaster (13-1) and failed to play smoothly on offence.
Queen’s lost the first set 25-21. Fifth-year outside hitter Philippe Goyer struggled with his attacks, often getting blocked, before being taken out midway through the second set.
In the second set, the crowd cheered when setter Jamie Wright, the Gaels’ shortest player at 6’1”, rose up at the net to spike a contested ball.
The frame went back and forth until reaching a 20-20 deadlock. McMaster turned on the jets at that point, scoring five points in a row to close the set 25-20.
The third set was much of the same — mostly back and forth with McMaster maintaining a slight edge.
The highlight of the set was a save from Gaels outside hitter Markus Trence that saw him sprint to the back wall and careen into the ad boards. That ball eventually made it into the hands of outside hitter Mike Tomlinson, who finished the play with an emphatic kill.
Still, the Gaels eventually lost the set 25-19, dropping their first contest since a Nov. 16 loss to the Waterloo Warriors “[McMaster’s] an incredibly physical team — they have no weaknesses,” Willis said. “And when one guy isn’t getting the job done, they have four more behind him who’re just as good.”
The match, despite its outcome, showed Queen’s has the skill to hang with top talent.
“We’re close, but we’re not as good as they are right now,” Willis said.
The Gaels have three weeks to change that, as they’ll travel to Hamilton for a Feb. 6 rematch with the Marauders.
“If we can take a set off these guys [next time] and show some progress, that would be great,” Willis said.
Goyer’s attacks weren’t clicking as they usually do, so he found himself on the bench during parts of Sunday’s loss.
“He wasn’t scoring and his passing was hurting us,” Willis said. “When Phil’s hitting isn’t going the way he wants sometimes his passing goes with it and he needs to separate those.”
Trence had 12 kills against McMaster, while Tomlinson had eight kills and seven digs. Defensively, libero Ivo Dramov contributed 10 digs and middle Scott Brunet recorded four blocks
The Gaels are at home again next weekend. They’ll host the Toronto Varsity Blues (3-12) and the Ryerson Rams (11-3).
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