Volume 91, Issue 80

Thursday, February 19, 1998

warm buns


V-Ball's magical mystery tour

©Tom Baumgartner/Gazette
SO ARE YOU A BOXER OR BRIEF MAN, DARREN? Things are looking up for Scott Peckham [2] and Darren Brownlee [6] after knocking off Windsor to advance to the Ontario finals.

By John Intini

Gazette Staff

There always seems to be something mystical about playoff time, which helps to explain the magical playoff run of the Western men's volleyball team. Casting another spell Tuesday night, the Mustangs beat the Windsor Lancers at Alumni Hall in thrilling fashion, closing out their best of three series to win the Ontario West Division Championship.

Western looked to be in for a quick victory early on, breezing through the first game and forcing the hapless Lancers against the ropes in the second, leading 14-9.

Shockingly, the Lancers exploded to win the set and carried the momentum into the third game, trouncing the stunned Mustangs 15-4.

As has been the case on three different occasions in this past week, the Mustangs were a game away from having their season come to a close, but repeating past performances the Mustangs refused to go down without a fight.

"They had us down but we showed once again that we have incredible depth and character," Mustang head coach Dave Preston said. "At no time did the guys panic – which is a testament to their ability in pressure situations."

With the match still close in the final frame, a Windsor player accidentally took his service out of rotation, conceding match point to an exuberant Mustang squad who took the victory, 15-12, 14-16, 4-15, 15-11 and 15-13.

Windsor head coach Huub Kemmere refused to comment after the frustrating ending.

Western is now scheduled to host the OUA championship tomorrow against the East division champion University of Toronto Blues. However, more importantly, the victory guarantees the club a berth in the CIAU championships at the University of Calgary on Feb. 27.

Mustang Darren Brownlee, who recorded a number of key kills in the victory, felt the tough series with Windsor can only better the team in preparing for the national championships.

"It is certainly a confidence booster as we get set to go out West," Brownlee said. "There are some great programs out there but I think that we proved to ourselves that we can come back from any deficit."

Assistant coach Geoff Miller, captain and all-Canadian setter of the Mustangs over the five seasons prior to this year, sees a lot of similarities with this team and the team that travelled out West two years ago.

"When we went to nationals we were good, but the depth of this year's team is incredible. [Preston's] options seem endless at times," he said.

Historically, the strongest teams have come from the Western Canadian provinces and Quebec, with the Ontario divisions seen as the weaker cousin.

As for the Mustangs chances in Calgary, Preston feels they are as good as anyone's and said that if the team shows the character it did in the West playoffs, the tournament could get interesting.

"You have to win three straight games to be national champions," he said. "It's as simple as Green Bay [Packers] by 14 – anything can happen."

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

Copyright © The Gazette 1998