THERE IS NO rest for the weary athlete. While most students were relaxing at home during reading week, the women’s volleyball team (13-5 regular season, 2-1 playoffs) made it to the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) Final Four. The Gees made it all the way to the gold medal-match where they claimed silver and proved they could compete with the best.
Final four, here we come
The Gee-Gees kicked off the playoffs on Feb. 18 in front of a supportive home crowd at Montpetit Hall in the Ontario quarter-final game. The second-seated 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.
Neither team held a substantial lead in the first 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.”
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.
The Garnet and Grey managed to beat the Gryphons with a few well-placed kills, taking the set 25-23.
Up two sets to one, the Gees refused to relent, playing to their strengths and winning the game with their fourth set 25-17 victory. With the Gees’ win, they moved on to 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. “Now it’s final four and everybody’s even, so let’s let it rip.”
Gees win in semifinal matchup against Paladins
On Feb. 25 the Garnet and Grey fought for the opportunity to play in the OUA gold medal match and won. The semifinal game pitted the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees against the Royal Military College Paladins (9-9 regular season, 1-1 playoffs), where the Gees clinched a three-set win.
“A real focused effort by our kids,” said head coach Lionel Woods of the game. “They did what they had to do to win this match and get to the gold.”
The game started slow with the Gees trailing behind the Paladins. Schwanke picked up two aces and helped the U of O win the first set 25-14. The second frame was dominated by Grail whose performance totalled four kills, 35 assists, and six digs. The Garnet and Grey secured the win in the third set, 25-17.
Ottawa moved to the final competition against Queen’s University Golden Gaels on Feb. 26, a team they had yet to beat in the regular season.
“[The teams] are dead even,” said Woods. “So both teams just have to play their best and to me that’s exciting. Both teams deserve what chips fall where they may. Obviously we want the gold and all we have to do is play the way we do with all seven people at any given moment, and I expect Queen’s to do the same. I expect a long match—a battle match.”
The Garnet and Grey lose out on CIS opportunity
The University of Ottawa volleyball team’s (13-5 regular season, 2-1 playoffs) season came to a close on Feb. 26 with a 3-1 set loss to the Queen’s University Golden Gaels at Montpetit Hall.
The OUA gold-medal match set two equally competitive teams against each other and the Golden Gaels came out victorious. Although the Gees were able to win their second set, tying the game at 1-1, they couldn’t prevent Queen’s from out-serving them in the third and fourth sets for the gold.
Head coach Lionel Woods was proud of his squad’s effort, and at the end of the game could only speak to how fierce the Golden Gaels were on the court.
“Let’s just talk about how good Queen’s was,” said Woods after the game. “Queen’s forced us to do well. In game two we did [that], we served well, we didn’t miss as many … we were focused I thought and it just didn’t work out. I’m really proud of our kids for not backing off.”
Third-year setter Laura Carmanico dominated the play with 12 kills and 33 taps, contributing to the second frame win for the Garnet and Grey. Schwanke also contributed with nine kills, 30 taps, and four assists.
The game resulted in a heartbreaking loss for the Gees, with some players like fifth-year libero Claudia Seguin upset at not having the opportunity to compete in the Canadian Interuniversity Sport championships.
“I think we put up a fight—they just fought harder. In the end, that’s all I can say. We played all four sets well, and it could have gone both ways,” she said.
The Gees were given their well-deserved silver medals at the end of the game, and marched off the court for the last time in the 2011-12 season.