OUA Final: Gaels soar past Gryphons to win OUA title
HAMILTON, Ont. - The Queen's Gaels are kings of the volleyball
court as they defeated the Guelph Gryphons 3-2 in the OUA men's
volleyball championship in Burridge Gym on campus at McMaster
University. Set scores for the match were 25-22, 17-25, 17-25,
The Gaels came out of the gates determined to improve upon their silver medal finishes from the past two seasons. They quickly jumped out to an 8-6 lead at the first technical timeout and fought off some strong serving by Gryphons left side Andrew Bartram of Aurora, Ont., to give themselves two set point opportunities. The Gaels would only need one as a stuff block by fifth year middle Sam Pedlow of Barrie, Ont., gave Queen's the opening set.
However, the Gryphons were not travelling alone on this night as a large contingent of fans made the trip to Hamilton, Ont. from Guelph, Ont. to support their team and they made their presence felt in the next two sets. Driven by this support, the Gryphons used strong play from James Stamler of North Bay, Ont., to take over the match and capture the next two sets by identical scores of 25-17.
With another silver medal staring them in the face, the Gaels came out to start the fourth set very poised with Niko Rukavina of Mississauga, Ont., scoring some key points early on to open up an 8-6 lead at the first technical timeout. The Gaels would continue to stretch their lead thanks to the powerful serving of Joren Zeeman of Cambridge, Ont., and eventually, a stuff block from Michael Amoroso of Toronto and Dan Rosenbaum of Hamilton, Ont. gave Queen's the fourth set.
As the championship trophy sat waiting on the sidelines, Queen's and Guelph put everything on the line in the final set. The teams traded points early on before a big kill from Gryphons left side Jonathan Whitton gave Guelph momentum and a three point lead. Another Guelph point put them up 11-7 but once again, the Gaels dug deep and managed to fight back. First, Bryan Fautley of Oakville, Ont., put away a kill followed by a stuff block from Rukavina to even the match at 13. From there, the Gaels turned to OUA first-team all-star Zeeman and he made back-to-back kills, the final one glancing off a Guelph defender and into the roof of Burridge Gym to give Queen's their first provincial championship since 2007.
Zeeman, who was named the Mikasa player of the match for Queen's, was a force all match as he recorded 24 points, 19 of them off of kills. Fautley chipped in with 11 kills while Rukavina had 10. Rosenbaum was once again the setup man for the Gaels hitters and finished with 45 assists.
Winston Rosser of Whitby, Ont., was the leading hitter for Guelph with 14 kills while Whitton and Kevin Stewart of Ancaster, Ont., had 11 and 10 respectively. Libero Gabriel deGroot was named Mikasa player of the match for the Gryphons after recording 11 digs.
This is the Gaels third volleyball title in five seasons. It also marks the fourth banner won by Queen's this season having won men's football, men's rugby and women's squash.
On Friday the Gaels rallied from a 2-0 deficit to beat the Western Mustangs in a dramatic come-from-behind victory to qualify for the championship game. Guelph defeated the No. 1 seeded McMaster Mustangs 3-2 to qualify for the final.
With the win, Queen's advances to next weekend's Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) men's volleyball championship at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, B.C.
NOTES: The Gaels last OUA championship came during the 2006-07 season when they defeated the McMaster Marauders in a three game series...the year before that, the Gaels defeated Ryerson to claim the provincial championship...Pedlow is the only current member of the Gaels who was on those championship-winning teams.
Courtesy of Queen's University Athletics and Recreation
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