Mustang’s women’s volleyball team defeated the Queen’s Golden Gaels in straight sets at Alumni Hall this Saturday in OUA quarterfinal action. The team will advance to the final four for the third straight year, where they will take on the undefeated University of Toronto Varsity Blues on Friday.
“We executed our game plan pretty much start to finish,” said Mustangs head coach Melissa Bartlett. “Our goal was to have our middles be our big scorers because we knew it would be a good matchup for us.”
Third-year middle Kelsey Veltmen led the team with 13 kills and a .706 hitting per cent. The former OUA Rookie of the Year and OUA first-team all-star had 17 total attacks, with only one error, and had 18.5 points.
“Our energy was so good through the whole game and we kept it really consistent which is something we really wanted to work on and we practice that a lot in practice,” said Veltman. “It was great to see it into the game.”
The team started out strong with 17 earned points, with the remaining eight points coming off of errors on Queen’s side. Additionally, the team had nine kills and five blocks, while Queen’s only managed one block and eight kills.
The second set was another 25-15 affair, earning 16 points and adding 13 kills and one block to their game totals. The Gaels earned five points in the second set with the other 10 coming off of Mustang errors.
The third set was tightly contested in comparison to the other two, with the Mustangs coming out on top 25-20. Queen’s made an offensive push towards the end of the game with seven unanswered points served by Danielle Corrigan. Their offensive push wasn’t enough, as the Mustangs closed out the game in three straight sets.
“I think we were looking ahead at next weekend already and getting excited for that. I wasn’t surprised that it happened, Queen’s had that last push too,” said Bartlett. “They were basically fighting for their lives and I was glad that we were able to pull it out. You never know in a situation like that.”
Crucial to the Mustangs victory was their teams defense, which outmatched the Gaels. Earning ten blocks in comparison to the Gaels, who only earned one during the match, the Mustangs managed to contain Caroline Livingston, a third-year outside hitter and Queen’s star player. Livingston only recorded five kills throughout the match, good for third on the Queen’s roster. She also recorded six errors, giving her a hitting percentage of -.043.
“She's an easy person to key on because that's their whole offense,” Veltman said. “We keyed in on her really early and she struggled with that.”
The Mustangs' success in shutting down Livingston bodes well for the Mustangs, who will need to replicate their defensive success against the Varsity Blues' powerful outside hitter Alina Dormann.
“We're going to focus on their big outside hitter Alina Dormann [this week],” said Veltman. “I think if we can do the same thing to her as we did to Caroline this weekend I think we'll be pretty successful.”
The Mustangs will be taking on the Varsity Blues this Friday for the OUA semifinals. The Blues are undefeated so far this season and the defending OUA and CIS/U Sport champions. The Mustangs fell to the Varsity Blues three sets to one earlier this season, but will be looking for a win in order to advance to the gold medal game for the first time since 2011, where they claimed gold over the Guelph Gryphons.
“It’s been our goal all year to be OUA Champions, that’s been clear,” said Bartlett. “It’s been posted up in our team room.”
An OUA banner isn’t the only thing on the line, as a berth to the National championships is at stake during the final four. Ryerson, this year’s host, is already guaranteed a seed in the National tournament, with two more spots up for grabs. The Mustangs haven’t been to the national championships since 2011 as well, where they finished in fifth place.
“The ball’s in our court, if we can defeat Toronto and take one of those top two spots we’re guaranteed a spot,” said Bartlett. “That’s a very exciting position to be in.”
The final four will be this weekend, March 10-12, hosted by Toronto, the OUAs top seed. The Mustangs will be back in action on Friday, where they will take on the host Varsity Blues.