The women’s volleyball team took on the Royal Military College Paladins this Wednesday in their final regular-season matchup, after the game was originally scheduled for Nov. 13 but was delayed due to H1N1 concerns. The Gaels swept the Paladins 25-11, 25-13, 25-6.
The Paladins were fresh on the heels of a momentous win over the Windsor Lancers on Sunday, snapping a 110-game losing streak, but were no match for the Gaels, who extended their record at home to 8-0—6-0 since the opening of the ARC.
Head coach Joely Christian-Macfarlane said her team learned a valuable lesson, regardless of the score.
“Our focus was to step into the game in prep for playoffs next week, and really do what we had to do,” she said. “What you gain out of playing a team like this is [learning] that you have to prep on your side of the court. How you step into the match … has to be the same regardless of who is on the other side of the net.” Second-year outside hitter Natalie Gray excelled for the Gaels, notching 10 digs, eight kills and eight service aces. First-year outside hitter Natalie Fisher led the team in kills with nine, while first-year defender Shannon Walsh added 12 digs. First-year setter Anna Pedjase led with 18 assists, while second-year setter Kristin Collins contributed 11.
Fisher said consistency was the key to the Gaels’ success.
“We were all focused, and very composed, and we knew what we had to do,” she said. “We just played … hard, and it turned out really well. So it was a good way to finish [the season].”
Fisher said the Gaels will be successful in the post-season if they can adapt to different teams.
“It’s different against every team. The way we approached this game, mentally, should be the same as every other game. But our game plan is a little different because of the players they have on the other side.” She said the road ahead will not be without challenges.
“We really need to focus on being disciplined, because we’re not going to be playing easy teams, so every game is going to be a battle.”
This win puts the Gaels at 13-6 on the season, second place in the OUA East behind the University of Toronto. This is their best record since the 2003-04 season, when they also secured second place behind Toronto. They finished fourth in the division the last two years.
The Gaels begin their playoff run on Feb. 19 against the York Lions.
“It’s going to be a huge game for us, because we lost to them in the quarter [finals] last year,” Fisher said. “We’re all going to be revved up for that game, and we’re not going to go home empty this year.”
The Gaels will set their attention to the playoffs now, as they will host the third-place York Lions on Feb. 19 at 7 p.m. at the ARC Main Gym.
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