Dan Jansen Van Doorn

By Benjamin Deans - The Journal - Queen's University - LINK to Story

KINGSTON, Ontario — The men’s volleyball team’s shot at a national championship ended on Saturday night when they fell to the first-seeded Trinity Western Spartans 3-0 in front of 1,994 fans at the ARC.

“Hurts a little bit right now,” captain Niko Rukavina said. “Lost to a better team. They just played better than us.

“Our biggest goal is to get past it and move on to tomorrow and try to win a bronze.”

The Gaels will play the Manitoba Bisons for a CIS bronze medal on Sunday at 1 p.m. The Spartans will face the Laval Rouge et Or at 4 p.m. in the CIS gold-medal game.

Despite tonight’s loss, the Gaels still have a chance to be the first Ontario team to win a CIS medal since 1991. It would also be Queen’s first-ever CIS men’s volleyball medal.

“Manitoba is definitely a beatable team, much more beatable than Trinity,” Rukavina said.

Saturday’s crowd broke the ARC’s attendance record for the second straight night. The building was at its loudest when Trinity Western was serving — the Spartans tallied eight serving errors.

“The crowd was great,” Rukavina said. “They did what they needed to do and we let them down. I feel bad that they all came out and we performed the way we did.”

The Gaels kept it close in the first set, with outside hitter and first-team all-Canadian Joren Zeeman leading his team with six kills. The score was tied 8-8, but the Spartans gradually pulled away and took the first set, 25-20.

“We played them even for a while and then there were just a couple of really tough serves,” Queen’s coach Brenda Willis said. “I think we lost our confidence.”

Queen’s lost the next two sets 25-13 and 25-14.

Willis said the Gaels lost to a better team.

“They don’t make errors,” she said.

The Spartans held Zeeman to 10 kills on Saturday. He averaged 14 kills per match in the regular season.

“They have so much faith in their block,” Willis said. “Even if they give you an easy ball and you get a perfect pass out of it, they’re still confident that they can block you.”

Willis said she expects a competitive bronze medal match tomorrow. The Bisons — who lost 3-1 to the Laval Rouge et Or on Saturday — are the tournament’s number-two seed and the only Canadian team to beat Trinity Western this year.

“Manitoba and Western was such an even match,” Willis said. “We match up very well with Western, so I’m assuming we’ll match up well with Manitoba.”

Last Updated: 2012-03-07
Author: Mark Janzen