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Gaels give it their all at nationals

Queen's Gaels women's hockey team
The Queen's Gaels competed at the U SPORTS Women’s Hockey Championship in London over the weekend. 

The Queen's Gaels women's hockey team and men's volleyball team both competed at the U SPORTS national championships on the weekend, thanks to their OUA silver-medal winning performances.

WOMEN’S HOCKEY

Addi Halladay scored a late power play goal but an overtime St. Francis Xavier tally gave the X-Women a 4-3 win over the Queen's Gaels in the consolation semifinals on Saturday at the U SPORTS Women’s Hockey Championship in London.

Clare McKellar and Katarina Manoukarakis also scored for the Gaels and Stephanie Pascal put forth an incredible 43-save effort.

“We wanted to play for Sunday,” said head coach Matt Holmberg after the game. "StFX is a great team and we knew it would be tough. I'm really proud of the team and how they bounced back from yesterday to leave everything out there." 

The Gaels lost their opening game on Friday the Manitoba Bisons 4-0.

StFX came out strong in the opening period, outshooting Queen's 12-4, and getting on the board in the 12th minute. McKellar tied it up just a minute into the second period following up a break by Halladay. The teams exchanged goals over the next three minutes to make it 2-2.

The X-Women regained control early in the third, outshooting the Gaels 11-0 over the first five minutes, however Pascal kept the scoreboard even at 2-2. But with seven minutes left the X-Women broke through, scoring off a faceoff.

Fittingly enough, given the pace of the game, the Gaels responded in short order, as Halladay tied the game at 3-3 just over three minutes later to set the stage for an exciting finish. It wouldn't take long to decide a winner, with Daley Oddy scoring at 2:37 of the extra frame to secure a 4-3 win for the X-Women.

"It is emotional," Holmberg said regarding his graduating players after the game. “You really do grow up with these players and not only did they give a lot to the program on ice but they helped to move the culture ahead. The seven that are graduating have all contributed incredibly to our team culture and the success that we had."

The Manitoba Bisons won the title.

Queen's Gaels Men's Volleyball
Zane Grossinger and Jack Peckham go up for a block during Saturday's game against the University of New Brunswick.

MEN’S VOLLEYBALL

The Queen’s Gaels dropped their second hard-fought match in two days falling in straight sets 24-26, 28-30, 18-25 to the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) champion UNB Varsity Reds in the consolation semifinal at the U SPORTS Men's Volleyball Championship in Hamilton.

The match brought head coach Brenda Willis amazing career to an end. A five-time OUA Coach of the Year, Willis leaves Queen's after 31 years as head coach and five OUA titles. Her all-time record with the Gaels ends at 367-196 (.651).
Willis was hopeful that her story as a pioneering female coach of a men's program will encourage a new generation of female coaches to break through as leaders in high-performance sport.

"I never set out 31 years ago to be a trailblazer or whatever you want to call it," said Willis. "It was just circumstance and opportunity that allowed me to coach men, and it went well pretty quickly. I was just lucky to turn my hobby into my career.

"I just hope that my legacy is a message to women that they can coach at a high level and coach men if they want to, and not to let stereotypes stand in their way."

Zac Hutcheson took home Player of the Match honours for the Gaels after finishing with 13 kills while adding an ace and a block assist.

Evenly matched from the afternoon's opening serve, there was little to choose between the Varsity Reds and Gaels in the first two sets, but UNB were able to find the edge each time. In the third set, the Gaels were slow out of the blocks and the Reds took advantage.

On Friday the Gaels pushed the second-seeded Alberta Golden Bears to four sets 19-25, 19-25, 25-19 23-25.

Markus Trence had a massive game with 20 kills and an ace as well as five blocks.

The University of British Columbia claimed the championship.