Mustangs set for playoffs
By John Intini
If the final week of the season is all a matter of jockeying for playoff position then Mustang volleyball head coach Dave Preston thinks he has bred this year's prize-winning horse.
"We're ready," he said. "The team has the depth and experience to win it in the post-season, it's all just a matter of execution and playing our game."
Before getting their playoff faces on, the Mustangs have to prepare for their final two regular season games against the Guelph Gryphons and Waterloo Warriors. Preston said the team must make sure it remains focused and wins these two contests, citing playoff positioning in next week's West division semi-finals as key.
"We have a bit of fine-tuning to do with defence and ball control," he said. "It is obvious by last week's win that we are close to if not at the top of our game."
The Mustangs will be joined by Laurier, McMaster and Windsor in the West semi-finals on Feb. 18. Only the final standings are left to be decided. As it sits now, the Mustangs would be pitted against Mac and then take on the winner of the Laurier-Windsor match the following Saturday. The OUAA final against the winner of the East division will be played March 4, with both teams going to the CIAU championships. The CIAUs will be hosted this year by the University of Calgary the following weekend.
Although the Mustangs have lost twice to the division-leading Laurier Golden Hawks this year their only two defeats Mustang captain Geoff Miller is quite confident his club will be able to avenge the regular season setbacks.
"As long as we step up our play a bit I know we will beat them," he said. "We are a playoff team and it is all a question of coming out and playing our game. There is nobody in the West that can beat us when we're on our game."
Fellow teammate Rob Mizak, recently back from injury, also commented on his team's readiness for next week.
"We obviously don't want to overlook the two games this week for playoff reasons," he said. "But the team's experience and power will help us during the West finals and hopefully can carry us through to the CIAUs."
Head coach Brett Thomas of the West division-leading Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks, commented on the Mustangs playoff chances.
"They are the team to beat," he said. "We might have beat them twice and be at the top of the division but if the real Western team shows up during the playoffs they'll mop the floor with us."
On the injury front, both Darren Brownlee and Scott Peckham, out last week with back and knee injuries respectively, should be clear to return to the lineup for the Guelph match.
The Mustangs host the Gryphons at Alumni Hall tonight at 8 p.m. in their final regular season home game.
THEY CALLED HIM JOHNNY BALL-HAND BECAUSE HE HAD A BALL FOR A HAND. Mustang Rob Mizak drills one down the middle at last week's home game against Brock.