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Gee-Gees OUA silver medal squad falls short at CIS

This season, the Gee-Gees women’s volleyball team played with heart, determination, and resolve. It got them pretty far but not quite as far as they had hoped.

On Feb. 28, the Gees made the 2,600-kilometre journey to Regina, Sask., to compete among the nation’s top eight schools for the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) national championship. Unfortunately, the trip was all for naught thanks to a first-round matchup with the second-best team in the country, the Manitoba Bisons.

The Gees were hoping for at least a top-four finish this year to match what they were able to achieve last season. It would have been a tough road to get to the top as the Gees came in seeded seventh. After nabbing silver in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) final on Feb. 23 against McMaster, they were ready to raise their level of play but surely had no idea what they were in for at nationals.

Manitoba holds six national championships and after early struggles this season had been on a tear in the playoffs. The Gee-Gees fell behind early by losing the first set 25–17. In the second set, it looked like there was some hope but the set eventually fell to Manitoba, 25–23. The Bisons put the match away in straight sets with a dominant 25–16 win in the third, ending the Gees’ top-four hopes decisively.

OUA East MVP and All-Canadian Myriam English led the Gee-Gees once again with a nine-point performance, followed by her sister and fellow All-Canadian Kelsie English who had seven and a half points. Standout first-year Kaly Soro also added seven and a half in the match.

Despite not reaching their top-four goal, the Gees still had the opportunity to compete for fifth place in the tournament provided they win in a consolation game against Langley, B.C.’s Trinity Western University Spartans. The Spartans were the third seed before the Dalhousie Tigers upset them in the first round.

The Spartans were much more prepared and focused than the Gee-Gees coming out with an almost carbon-copy performance that they put up to win the bronze medal against the Gees in last year’s nationals. A rough 25–14 first set got the Gees off on the wrong foot once again. Following the first, another close second set for consecutive games saw the Spartans barely grabbing a 25–22 win before winning the match 25–15 in the third. Yet another straight-set loss for the Gees sent them packing, coming back to Ottawa completely empty handed. Kelsie was the English sister that topped the other in this match with an impressive 13.5 points.

The future is now somewhat uncertain for the Gee-Gees squad. Key players including the English sisters are graduating this year and will be a big loss for the program. The team still retains young talent that will be key to their success in the next few seasons. Look for the Gees to be back out on the floor making noise once again in October and hopefully starting their journey to the 2015 CIS nationals in one year’s time in Saskatoon.