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photos by Paul Yacobucci

Women’s volleyball team places third in pre-season tournament

EIGHT TEAMS FROM across the country were welcomed into Montpetit Hall to participate in the Gee-Gees Pre-Season Classic Sept. 30–Oct. 2. Hosted by the University of Ottawa women’s volleyball team, the weekend matchups were the first tests of the season for the Garnet and Grey, and the end result was favourable as the Gees finished with a 3-2 record and captured the bronze medal in the exhibition tournament.

The Ottawa team started off strong with two convincing victories. The first was over the York Lions whom they defeated three sets to one, and next against the McMaster Marauders, taking the match in straight sets.

The Gees’ third and final round-robin game was a hard-fought match, but ended in a loss—three games to two—to the eventual silver medalists, the Sherbrooke Vert et Ors. Despite the loss, the Gee-Gees’ two wins over the Lions and Marauders were enough to land them a spot in the championship semifinal against the McGill Martlets.

The Gee-Gees head coach Lionel Woods commented on the loss, explaining that it taught the team the difference between a controlled game and a disorganized one.

“We needed that, because yesterday we won and controlled [the game, while] this morning we didn’t control things all the time. But we also didn’t cave.”

The Gees then confronted the McGill Martlets who came out aggressive, and took the first two sets with scores of 25-14 and 25-23. The Gees bounced back to win the third set in a 25-10 blowout, but the experienced Martlet squad ended the Gee-Gees’ chance at nabbing the gold medal when they won the fourth set, 25-21. The Martlets went on to win the tournament, beating the Vert et Ors in the championship game, three sets to two.

Despite the team’s semifinal loss, Woods was optimistic about his team’s play thus far.

“We played no matches until this weekend, so it’s sort of straight into fire,” said Woods. “I thought we improved each set of the day, and for the pre-season, I couldn’t ask for more.”

With the semifinal loss, the Gees suited up against the Waterloo Warriors in a battle for bronze. Things looked dire at the start, as the Warriors grabbed the lead of the first game and capitalized on Ottawa’s errors to win the set 25-21. The Gees soon tightened up their play and fought back to take the second set 25-20, and the third, 26-24.

Just when it seemed like the match was over, the Warriors rallied from a 10-5 deficit to win the fourth set 25-17, which forced the Gees into a fifth and final set. In the end, it was the Garnet and Grey that came out on top, with second-year hitter Karina Krueger Schwanke putting the ball away in a decisive spike to finish the match with a 20-18 fifth set victory.

Along with second-year setter Christina Grail, Schwanke was named one of the most valuable players of the tournament for the Gees. She commented on her team’s victory after the game.

“It felt awesome,” said Schwanke. “It felt really well balanced; everything was going well, everyone was trusting each other, and as soon as something would go wrong we would just bring it back together—talk to each other and fix it right away.”

Woods was also happy with the rookie performance throughout the tournament.

“What a match—it was fantastic,” said Woods. “All we talked about all weekend long was maturing every match and every set … Every person who played, played tough. Even if they made mistakes, we wanted to be tough minded and mature.”

With the exhibition tournament behind them, the Gees seem comfortable with what they’ve accomplished this early in the season. The team’s first regular season game will be Oct. 21 at Montpetit Hall, where they will host the Guelph Gryphons.

—Keeton Wilcock