This weekend marked a high point for the Queen’s women’s volleyball team as they won back-to-back games on home court against the Windsor Lancers. Sweeping the double header has given the Gaels newfound confidence heading into the second half of their season.
“It’s exciting to win on the home court again,” outside hitter Mary Stewart said in an interview with The Journal.
Stewart was named the female Varsity Athlete of the Week in honour of her incredible performance. She led the Gaels this weekend with a total of 12 kills.
The Gaels rank slightly above the Lancers in the OUA standings, and proved they deserve the spot by defeating them 25-14, 25-17, and 25-11 on Friday night.
Then, riding high after Friday’s win, the Gaels held a solid lead during the first set of Saturday’s game. Just as the Lancers began cutting into the Gaels’ lead, outside hitter Rachel Meilikhan dialed in and ended the first set with an ace for a 25-18 win.
Windsor blocked the Gaels’ attacks on the right side of the court during the second set and stunted Queen’s lead. However, the Gaels remained unphased and oozed confidence on the court. Windsor got flustered after the Gaels hit six points in a row, and called a timeout to stop the momentum, but the Gaels finished off strong with a 25-22 win.
“We really try to stick together,” Stewart told The Journal. “We always come in [between sets] and say ‘ok, stay calm, we’ve got this.”
During the third set, Kennedy Millin made some key assists and blocks, but her teammates struggled to execute and win these points. Nonetheless, the Gaels pulled it together and finished off the set with another 25-22 win to send the Lancers home empty-handed.
“We didn’t quite finish as strong as we started and played most of the match,” Head Coach Ryan Ratushniak said in a post-game interview with The Journal.
This season hasn’t been easy for the Gaels: the team went 0-3 at the Volleyball Showcase in BC.
Most recently, however, they tamed the York Lions in a split doubleheader.
Ratushniak attributes the team’s recent monumental wins and comebacks to his philosophy of “playing with courage,” which he admitted is easier said than done.
“I am feeling good about where our team is at right now. We’re getting better, we’re working hard and improving all the time,” Ratushniak said.
The team now only has a half-dozen games left to prepare for the OUA Championship in late February. Last season, the Gaels lost to the U of T Varsity Blues in the OUA East Final.
Ratushniak doesn’t want the team to lose focus in the process of getting to the playoffs. He told The Journal the second half of the season will be spent on building upon their foundation of strong gameplay and mental toughness.
Last year, the Gaels lost in a heartbreaking match to the Varsity Blues in the third round of the OUA playoffs. The team is heading into the second half of the season feeling cautiously optimistic.
The Gaels have another home court advantage this upcoming weekend when they take on the Western Mustangs in another double header in the ARC on Jan. 27 and 28.
ARC, Mary Stewart, OUA, sweep, Women's Volleyball
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