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Gee-Gees serve up a win in pre-season classic

Spencer Van Dyk | Fulcrum Staff

LAST WEEKEND, THE University of Ottawa women’s volleyball team took the gold at the 2012 Gee-Gees pre-season classic for the first time since 1994. The team ended the tournament with a straight five out of five wins.

Four out of six of Friday’s matches went all the way to five sets, but the excitement and anticipation remained high on Saturday as the Gee-Gees battled it out with Sherbrooke University Vert et Or in the semifinals, beating them three sets to two.

This victory comes right on the heels of the team’s success at a tournament at the Université de Montréal the previous weekend. They beat three of the four Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec teams at the tournament and finished with a 3-2 record.

Gee-Gees coach Lionel Woods said he hopes the team’s great results will paint an accurate picture of what is to come this season.

“In Montreal we had a night match that kind of put us fighting for first place, but I think the entire group stepped up and was fiery and wanted to win,” he said. “We were very competitive.”

Woods said his team’s competitive spirit and drive translated to a gold medal win this weekend.

“[It was the] same thing here this weekend. I think a couple times we let our foot off the gas pedal, but in both our matches against Sherbrooke, when we had to put our foot down, we did, and those were two great five-setters. And again, two games against McMaster [University on Sunday],” he said.  “I think for a 12:30 match, day three, first two sets, we were very disciplined, very structured, and everything went solid. It wasn’t very emotional, but we never slowed down, and we seemed to just do our job. Sometimes it’s go to work and just punch the clock, and I felt that was today. There were very few errors.”

On day one, the Gee-Gees beat Sherbrooke in an exciting 3-2 match, followed by a 3-0 win against McMaster. On day two, the team took a 2-0 win against McGill University, and then had another five-setter match against Sherbrooke, finishing with a 3-2 win. Finally, on day three, the Gee-Gees beat McMaster for the second time in a 3-0 win.

Fifth-year student and Gee-Gees team captain Kathryn Weihrer expressed her excitement at winning the tournament for the first time, and being able to do so in her final year on the team.

“It’s just an awesome feeling to start off the season this way,” she said. “I’ve played this tournament five years now, and we’ve never even come close to being this solid at the beginning of the year. It’s an ideal situation: you start the year with a win, you end it with a win.”

Weihrer is looking forward to seeing what this year’s rookies will bring to the Gee-Gees’ game. Rookies this year are Sophie Chenail, whom Weihrer describes as “awesome, athletic, fast, and super fun to watch,” Véronique Caya, whom Weihrer says is able to come in and play several different positions, and Michelle Chevalier, who is a new setter for the team.

Gee-Gees hitter Colleen Morelli spoke about both the pressure and the excitement of not only winning, but of winning two consecutive tournaments.

“Last weekend we played five games in the span of three days,” she said. “That’s a lot of volleyball, so to come back and do it again this weekend was a bit nerve-racking. You’ve got to rest bodies, but I think everyone rose to the occasion after a couple sets in the first Sherbrooke game, and we pulled it out, and it’s just been really good ever since.”

Coach Woods noted what he believes the team can improve on and where they will go from here.

“There’s always lots of things we can improve on. … I think our next step is not to get too fancy, and not to get too big-headed,” he said.  “We are not better than our last match. We are very good when we’re very focused. We are very floppy when we’re not. We’ve got something to do here; we’re trying to win a championship one match at a time. For Sept. 29, pre-season, it was a very mature match, so if that’s our starting point, then here we go.”

The Gee-Gees begin their regular season at the University of Windsor on Oct. 20. Their first home game is on Nov. 3 at Montpetit Hall.