Lions to host Queen’s in women’s volleyball provincial quarter-final

The 2009 Ontario University Athletics (OUA) women’s volleyball post-season gets underway this weekend with four quarter-final games on the schedule. The York Lions will host the Queen’s University Gaels in one of those contests on Saturday, Feb. 14 at 2pm at  theTait McKenzie Centre on York’s Keele campus.

The No. 9 nationally ranked Lions are the No. 1 seed in the OUA East Division after posting a stellar 18-1 record in conference play this season. Meanwhile, the Gaels finished fourth in the division with a 10-9 record.

Right: The York Lions women’s volleyball team in action

In three meetings between these two teams earlier this season, the Lions went 3-0 and won nine of the 11 sets played. York posted a 3-1 victory at the annual York Classic tournament in October and then won both conference matches, first crushing Queen’s 3-0 in Kingston, Ont. before winning 3-1 on home court.

The last time York and Queen’s met in the playoffs was five seasons ago, when the second-seeded Gaels defeated the third-seeded Lions 3-2 in an OUA quarter-final match en route to a fourth-place finish. Since that match, the Lions have reached the OUA Final Four tournament once – losing to the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks in the semifinals and University of Toronto Varsity Blues in the bronze medal game – while the Gaels have yet to get past the quarter-final stage. The Lions have fallen to the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees in the quarter-finals in each of the past three seasons.

An 18-1 record is indicative of a talented team that can put up big numbers at any position, and the Lions finished the regular season with players among the OUA leaders in several categories. While the squad features a number of veterans, the Lions were led in scoring by a pair of rookies. Thinesa Sriskandarajah and Kristina Vlcek finished second and third in OUA scoring with 3.87 and 3.54 points per game, respectively, while fifth-year star Candice Paulsen was fifth with 3.45. These three benefited from a top setter in Nadia Reider, who finished seventh in assists per game with 8.27. Defensively, the Lions were led by Antonia Stathakos and her 4.62 digs per game, good for third in the OUA.

The Gaels’ top scorer in the regular season was Colleen Ogilvie, who was 12th in the OUA with 3.21 points per game. Also having a big year was setter Kristin Collins, who was second in the OUA in assists per game with 9.02.

A win over Queen’s on Saturday afternoon will lift the Lions to the OUA Final Four tournament for the first time in four seasons, where they will have a chance to battle for their first OUA championship since 1997. As a result of their 18-1 record, the best in the league, the Lions will host the OUA semifinals and championship matches the following weekend should they advance that far.