The Gee-Gees are the defending champions of the Coupe de L’Est tournament. Image: Pexels/Stock
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U of O men’s volleyball Club has overcome the label of a ‘rebuilding year’

One great thing about fall 2021 has been seeing Gee-Gees teams back in full force. 

During the COVID-19 year, when teams could not compete, the University of Ottawa men’s volleyball team took some hits to their roster. With the team’s entire starting lineup leaving the team, outsiders were quick to label the 2021 roster as a ‘rebuilding’ year. 

An 11-6 record and a tournament championship trophy don’t really scream ‘rebuilding’ year, though. 

Gee-Gees head coach Yacine Amalou, himself a graduate from the volleyball program, praised the way the team has stepped up so far. 

“The players really stepped up and committed themselves to the team,” Amalou said. “This group has a lot of passion and drive to improve as compared to previous teams.” 

The Gees compete in exhibition matches and tournaments against both Ontario Colleges Athletic Association (OCAA) and Ontario University Athletics (OUA) teams throughout the season. This year, they are preparing for the Men’s Open Nationals in May. 

“We’ve had a lot of success against the OCAA teams but we’ve also been able to secure two wins against RMC who is currently ranked third in the OUA East,” Amalou explained. 

The Adidas Cup, a tournament that took place over the weekend of Nov. 20, was mostly composed of OCAA teams. The level of competition was high, as the hosts, Durham College had defeated Trent University, an OUA team earlier in the year. 

The Gee-Gees lost their first matchup to Seneca College.

Mathew Gaerke, captain of the U of O squad, expressed that it was a close game. 

“We ended up losing in five sets, it was a very tight match. We did manage to win our next two games.” 

The Gee-Gees defeated their other opponents to end up in the finals, where they met Seneca once more. This time, things went in favour of the Garnet and Grey after another five set nailbiter. 

“Winning the Adidas Cup was a big boost of confidence,” Amalou said. “Us coaches know how good our players are… I don’t think our players believed it until now.

Gaerke commented on the team’s performance so far, as well as the team’s goals moving forward. 

“We have been doing pretty good after a rough start at the beginning of the year,” Gaerke said. “We want to finish the season with a winning ratio, also we always want to be the loudest team in the gym.” 

“In terms of tournaments, we had a goal to place first at the Adidas Cup, which we did. We also want to place first in the Coupe de L’Est which is our largest tournament of the season.” 

The Gee-Gees are the defending champions of the Coupe de L’Est tournament. The top college teams gather from across the country to compete in the tournament in January.

While the Gees have tallied up plenty of wins this season, there are still more local tournaments and games on the road to the national championship tournament that will be hosted in Edmonton in May 2022.