Clean sweep for both Tommies volleyball teams

The St. Thomas University Tommies men's volleyball team is pictured in this file photo. (Shawn Murphy/STU Athletics)

The St. Thomas University Tommies volleyball teams played a doubleheader against the Université Sainte-Anne Dragons on Saturday, Nov. 20 at the Lady Beaverbrook Gym. The men’s game began at 5 p.m., followed by the women’s game at 7 p.m.

Men’s Game

The men’s team started the first set with a few small serving streaks which established a lead for the Tommies. The Dragons had to adjust to the Tommies’ serving tactics – largely accomplished by starting left side Gustavo Lobato.

The STU men were present at the net, shutting down the majority of Sainte-Anne’s offence, resulting in a four to five point lead throughout the remainder of the first set.

“We’re the most physical team in the conference,” said team captain Christian Christie. “Our starting lineup is all third years or older, so I think that gives us an advantage with blocking. We just know each other so well and can read plays faster than other teams.”

The Tommies won the first set 25-18.

The second set kicked off with a block from Christie, setting the tone for the remainder of the match.

The first points shifted back and forth between the Tommies and the Dragons, but STU gained the upper hand around the ten point mark.

During this set, Lobato led the Tommies in points off of attacks and had a few serving runs.

“Gustavo [Lobato] played really well that game. It was probably his best serving weekend so far this year,” said Christie. “I think the whole team was able to serve aggressive and consistently.”

Lobato closed the second set with a serving streak, winning the set 25-17.

The Tommies struggled early on in the third set to get the serve into the opponent’s court. Their coach called a timeout when Sainte-Anne drew ahead by two points, making the score 18-16 for the Dragons.

“In that third set, the other team came out playing really well and that’s when our energy dipped a little. The timeout gave us a chance to regroup and take a mental break,” said Christie. “Our team is really experienced so as soon as that timeout was called, we knew exactly what we had to do.”

The STU men quickly closed the score gap and put themselves in a position to go on another serving streak, courtesy of Lobato. Sainte-Anne stayed within two points of the Tommies for the duration of the set.

Lobato had a cross court attack, finishing the third set 26-24 and was named Supplement King’s Athlete of the Week.

Women’s Game

The Tommies middle attackers were alert, racking up the first two points of the game from sets by their starting setter Caitlin Jones. The first set had a back and forth start, before the STU women began generating offense off of every serve reception and defensive play.

“Usually we start off strong and when we do slow down it happens later on in the game. But on Saturday, we seemed to not be able to get going early on, but ended up finding our rhythm eventually,” said starting left side Gabrielle Melanson.

The rest of the set was characterized by keeping the play alive and generating a continuous offence.

The Tommies women won the first set 25-14.

In the second set, the Tommies held a two to four point lead for the majority of the match.

They used their back court defence, turned every ball into essential offence and they served consistently – missing very few.

“To attack you need a good pass, so it was our defence that allowed us to generate all of that offence,” said Melanson.

The Tommies won the second set 25-22.

In the third set, the Dragons had a small serving streak to draw ahead 8-3, as the Tommies were having trouble generating attacks early on.

Once they gained a point, Melanson went on a small streak to get them back to a one point deficit, to which the Dragons responded with a timeout.

Following the break, there were rallies throughout the middle of the third set – halted by a block from the Tommies.

The women’s team continued to accurately serve the ball, finding holes within the Dragons’ reception system multiple times.

“During practice, we’ll work a lot on serves so I was happy to see it pay off,” said Melanson. “Usually we’ll put chairs on the court and have to hit them with our serve to make us more accurate.”

The Tommies won the third set 25-18 – a clean 6-0 sweep for both STU teams.