THE GEE-GEES (13-5 regular season, 1-0 playoffs) kicked off the playoffs on Feb. 18 in front of a very supportive home crowd at Montpetit Hall in the Ontario quarter-final game. The second-seeded Gees were triumphant in four sets against the seventh-place University of Guelph Gryphons (9-9 regular season, 0-1 playoffs), earning their ticket to the semifinals after a four-game winning streak to end their regular season.
The first set began with the home team pulling out to an early 5-0 lead, before the Gryphons closed the gap to a 7-7 tie. Neither team held a substantial lead for the rest of the set, with the underdog Guelph squad eventually taking the frame with a score of 26-24.
“There were aspects of game one where we were nervous,” said Ottawa’s head coach Lionel Woods. “But the energy was good, our feet were good, and we just found a way to stay tough. I just said, ‘Look, I think that’s the best Guelph’s got, and if we stabilize and do all the things that we normally do—just a little better—then we’ll be OK.”
The Gees came back with a vengeance in the second set, jumping to an 11-1 lead, in large part due to the blocking of fourth-year middle Kathryn Weihrer and second-year left side/right side hitter Karina Krueger Schwanke. The Gryphons were unable to muster any challenge, and Gees’ third-year setter Christina Grail capped off the 25-6 victory with an ace.
“[We were] aggressive all the time. We missed serves, but we were swinging hard, digging everything, and not letting anything touch the floor,” said Gees’ second-year left side/ middle Myriam English of her team’s place.
The visiting squad regained their composure in the third set, and with the score at 21-16 it looked like they might be in a position to take the frame and put the Gees on their heels. The Garnet and Grey managed to beat the Gryphons with a few well-placed kills, and ended up taking the set 25-23.
Up two sets to one, the Gees refused to relent, playing to their strengths and winning the overall game with their fourth set 25-17 victory. With the Gees’ win, they move onto the Ontario semifinals.
“We played in the playoffs last year, but it’s still a young group, and it’s a brand new leadership group,” said Woods after the game. “You’ve got to get through that first playoff game and they did. It was at home and I think they did good. Now it’s final four and everybody’s even, so let’s let it rip.”
The Gees will take on Queen’s University Golden Gaels (13-5 regular season, 1-0 playoffs) at York University on Feb. 25.