Since winning the Ontario University Association (OUA) Women’s Volleyball Championship in 2012, the Queen’s Gaels have struggled with a number of losing seasons. That was until this year.
Under new coach Ryan Ratushniak and assistant coach Neil Muchmore, the ladies have improved tremendously. They’re currently tied for second place in the Eastern Conference with the University of Toronto Varsity Blues.
Both teams sport a record of 12-4, and it just so happens they’ll play each other on Friday night at the Queen’s Athletic Centre.
“Were preparing and training hard for the weekend,” said third-year Gael Sierra Hardy from Oakville.
“It’s a big game against U of T on Friday and then we’ve got Ryerson on Saturday night. A win or two would mean a lot for us because hosting a quarter-final playoff game would be a big accomplishment, so it’s definitely a big weekend. There’s lots of pressure but were preparing as much as we can.”
Another reason for the team’s turnaround this season has been the play of Shannon Neville.
The fifth-year senior from Cambridge, Ont., says their new coach has inspired the team to believe in themselves and their ability.
“Ryan has been a huge game-changer this year. He’s so supportive and wants to make this an amazing year for us. He’s allowing us to be successful and have some fun. He’s brought in a lot of mental training, helping us control our emotions. He’s also brought in a fast-paced offence and that’s something we haven’t had in the past. It took some getting used to but now that we’ve grasped the concept, it’s starting to pay off.”
Sierra Hardy says its been a great season so far and the girls are looking forward to the playoffs while noting that coach Ratushniak is a big reason for the team’s success.
Queen’s will play the Varsity Blues on Friday at 6 p.m. The undefeated Ryerson Rams stop off at the ARC on Saturday. It’s also a 6 p.m. start.
Saturday is also a special night for Brenda Willis. The longtime coach of the men’s team will officially retire from Queen’s after 31 years on the job.
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