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Volume 90, Issue 84

Wednesday, March 05, 1997

Yo's baby


Laurier's talons crush national hopes

©Sean Burges/Gazette
ARMED, DANGEROUS AND ELIMINATED. Western's Scott Peckham [left] and Travis Wintjes watch as the ball, along with the Mustangs' season, came crashing down during the OUAA semifinal against Laurier on Feb.22. The Golden Hawks upset the Mustangs 3-1 and were responsible for all three of Western's losses this season.

By John Intini
Gazette Staff

The Western Mustang men's volleyball team met up with one "Hawk" of a roadblock Feb. 22 at Alumni Hall, putting to rest both its post-season as well as dreams of a national title.

Just off a big home victory over the Windsor Lancers in the West division semifinal, the Mustang men were beat in four sets in the final against the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks (9-15, 15-7, 15-6, 15-10), bringing their goal of a return to the national championships to a screeching halt.

"We flat out made too many unforced hitting errors," Western head coach Dave Preston said. "We let a couple of aces drop in and their play against us was relentless."

All three Mustang losses this year came at the hands of the Golden Hawks. After a lopsided Western victory in the first set, Laurier stormed back and took advantage of mistakes to win the next three. Preston commented the loss was especially difficult for his graduating threesome, most notably Rob Mizak who remained sidelined with a knee injury.

"I don't know what was going through Rob's mind," Preston said. "It must have been heartbreaking to have to sit and watch your last career game from the bench knowing that you couldn't help the guys out."

Graduating team captain Geoff Miller was also hit pretty hard with the loss.

"It was tough to swallow but they beat us fair and square," Miller said. "It seems they get in a different mindset when they play us. We played average and they played great and that was the difference."

Preston commented that leadership will be a big issue next year with the loss of Miller, but hinted that Andrew Brunton will step up into the vacant captain role and help lead the younger team.

"The team will be at a loss for a bit of leadership, but I have faith the older guys, especially Andrew, will step it up and lead the team through the pressure situations."

After the win, the Golden Hawks went on to lose in the OUAA final March 1 in three quick sets to the University of Toronto Varsity Blues. However, even with the loss, the Golden Hawks will be off to Calgary this weekend to represent the OUAA West at the national championships.

Laurier will likely be ranked near the bottom of the pack at the nationals following its lopsided loss to Toronto in the Ontario final and according to Preston, the Hawks will have to play at the same level they played against his team if they hope to have a fighting chance.

Favourites at the tournament, due to the absence of the defending CIAU champion University of Manitoba Bisons, will be the University of Alberta Golden Bears as well as the teams from Sherbrooke and Winnipeg.

©Geoff Robins/Gazette
I GET UP, AND NOTHING GETS ME DOWN – EXCEPT LOSING. Western captain Geoff Miller [4] and Darren Brownlee [6] fell short last week despite obvious jumping ability.

To Contact The Sports Department: gazsport@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright © The Gazette 1997