Volume 91, Issue 58

Tuesday, January 13, 1998

fun dipped


Japanese bomb York Excalibre

©Tom Baumgartner/Gazette

I HOPE I JUMPED HIGH ENOUGH. Mustang rookie middle Jeremy Jonckheere [4] goes up for the kill against the Brock Badgers earlier this season after being set up by Scott Peckham [2].

By John Intini

Gazette Staff

When promoters of the York Excalibre Classic promised competition from the far East, few teams were ready for the all-star team they met in Toronto this weekend.

Joining the annual tournament this year was Tsukuba, a Japanese university all-star team, which became the first non-North American team in the 19-year history of the event to handily win the men's volleyball tournament with four convincing blow-out victories.

Tsukuba boasted three national team members as part of their sizzling attack. York Yeomen head coach and tournament organizer Wally Dyba said the Japanese all-stars were head and shoulders above the competition.

"There are a million and one reasons why the Japanese are better than us at volleyball," Dyba said. "They start at a much younger age and their volleyball program is similar to our hockey program in Canada. It would be like us sending our national hockey team to Japan."

Even with Sherbrooke, ranked third in the country, unable to attend due to the weekend's ice storm in Quebec and Eastern Ontario, four nationally-ranked clubs made the trip from York, Laval, Western and Toronto.

Waterloo Warrior head coach Tony Martins, a two-time victim to the powerhouse from the East, was also very impressed with the Japanese team's fluid style and incredible ball control.

"Their style of play is incredibly faster than anything we've seen in North America," Martins said. "I would have to attribute their great play to early development, discipline and coaching."

Martins, whose team surprised Western in the quarterfinals in three quick matches, said although the tournament is a big part of the volleyball season, it does nothing but boost team confidence.

"Team morale is the only thing gained from beating Western," Martins said. "We are still near the bottom of the West but hopefully can use our success in this tournament to turn the season around."

After losing to Waterloo, the West division lightweight, Western fell in four games to Laval in the match for fifth place.

Mustang captain Travis Wintjes felt the outcome of the tournament was a definite indicator of the team's need to prepare more for the post-season – regardless of the regular season perfect 7-0 record.

"Tournaments like this one allow us to get out of the West division and play teams that can really compete with us," Wintjes said, "We have the talent to be in the top three in the country unless we come out and play like we did this weekend."

The Mustangs play their first regular season game after the break tomorrow night in Waterloo against the Laurier Golden Hawks at 8 p.m..

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

Copyright © The Gazette 1998