We're not number one, not number two...
By Josh Webster
All good things must come to an end. That's how the Western women's volleyball team felt after losing to York in the OWIAA semifinals in Kingston two weekends ago. Although the loss ended any chance of winning the Ontario championship, the Mustangs did not come away empty handed, winning the bronze medal.
The three-day tournament started well for the 13-1 Mustangs. They swept hometown Queen's by scores of 15-6, 15-7 and 15-13 in their opening match. But their next opponent, York, halted the 'Stangs aspirations by cruising to a victory of 15-6, 15-8, 6-15 and 15-4. Western coach Dean Lowrie knew the semifinal match would be a tough one.
"York had four girls that have played four years and had way more experience than us," Lowrie explained. "They have been playing at that level for so long, we thought we could win but were not really confident."
"Winning the one game against York was big," added Lowrie. "It was our first win against York in about 10 years so it was important."
Western went on to face McMaster in the third-place game and fell behind quickly in the first game by a score of 11-4, showing the effects of the loss to York. But the Mustangs re-focused in a big way, scoring 41 of the next 50 points and sweeping the Marauders 15-12, 15-4 and 15-3.
The York Yeowomen came into the tournament winning 13 of the last 18 OWIAA championships. They continued their successful run in the final, handing Toronto their first league loss of the season by scores of 15-6, 6-15, 15-7 and 15-13.
Although the Yeowomen lost to the Blues twice during the regular season, York managed to defeat Toronto twice in invitational tournaments. This was a source of confidence for the Yeowomen going into the final.
"We were evenly matched in my perspective," York coach Merv Mosher said. "We knew that if we played to our potential we could beat them."
Although Mosher's squad handled Western easily in the semifinal, he was impressed with how the Mustangs played.
"They were the best in the West division and played some good games against us," Mosher said. "We had to play well to win. They have two or three players that can play on any team."
For its effort, York travels to exotic Edmonton for the CIAU finals this weekend.
As for the Mustangs, they will have a new look for next season, with three veterans Angelique Montano, Erin Jones and Kim Hefford graduating.
Western's near-perfect regular season performance and bronze medal proved the team's mettle to its rivals. After being pushed around by stronger East division squads the past few years, the women's volleyball program is ready to make the next step.
"We're in the ballpark. Now it's a matter of hitting some balls out of the park," Lowrie said. "We are a legitimate OWIAA team now."