Mustangs begin quest for West
By John Intini
The race for a national title starts tonight for the varsity men's volleyball team. Unfortunately, one of Western's stallions is not at the starting gates.
When the Mustangs take on the Windsor Lancers in their West division semifinal, fourth-year veteran Rob Mizak will be unable to dress. Mizak, who was injured earlier in the year will be out again due to a freak injury he sustained in the Mustangs' final regular season game in Waterloo. When going for an innocent-looking pass Mizak shifted all his weight, causing his knee to give out. He will definitely be out for tonight's game and is questionable for Saturday's West final if the Mustangs move on.
According to head coach Dave Preston, the team morale is still up even with the loss of its veteran.
"Rob is a big loss but the guys are still confident they can win," Preston said. "Practices have been really good all week. We've played without Rob earlier in the year and did fine. We'll be ready."
The Mustangs finished the season at 10-2, taking first place in the West and earning a date with the fourth-place Lancers. In order to beat Windsor, Preston said they will have to get past the Lancer wall at the net.
"They have three really big guys at the net that could make things tough for us," he said. "If we can get the ball through them we should be fine. Both Mark Habash and Geoff Miller will have to step up their power games a bit to combat their big guys."
The Mustangs defeated the Lancers in both regular season matches but are not taking them lightly.
"Both teams will be up and it's the team that remains consistent that will win the match," Preston said. "This is the first step and it is up to us to try to make this hurdle an easy one."
If there is one thing the Mustangs have to work on it is stopping its opponents' attacks. This becomes more of a question mark with the loss of Mizak and in order for the Mustang defence to side-out well, fill-ins Darren Brownlee and Travis Wintjes will have to have big games.
"Offence wins you points, but it's defence that wins you matches," Preston said.
The playoff picture is set with both West division semifinal matches being played tonight. In the other match the McMaster Marauders will face off against the Laurier Golden Hawks at home. The winner of this match will then move on to Saturday's OUAA final against either the favourite U of T Blues or the surprise East finalists, Queen's Golden Gaels. Both teams in the OUAA final will move on to the CIAU championships. This year's championship is being hosted by the University of Calgary.
The Mustangs hit the floor at 8 p.m. at Alumni Hall.
HANDS UP, BABY HANDS UP, GIMME YOUR LOVE GIMME GIMME YOUR LOVE. . . Mustang monster Rob Mizak will unfortunately be sidelined for tonight's semifinal, but should be back should Western advance.