Another walk in the park
By Jason Valentin
The Mustang men's volleyball team continued to glide through the OUA West division with a straight-set (15-9, 15-10, 15-5) win over the McMaster Marauders (4-4) at Alumni Hall on Wednesday.
Early resiliency by the Marauders proved futile as a total team effort by the Mustangs was too powerful for the Hamilton school to withstand. "The second set was the turning point. They just went through the motions in the third set after falling behind 2-0. The score showed that," Western head coach Dave Preston said.
Preston felt his team had an outstanding performance. "We played good, solid defence which is what we want to do heading into the playoffs," he said.
A disgruntled Marauder coach Regg Miller refused to comment on the defeat, storming out of Alumni Hall.
The game saw many Mustangs put forth superb efforts, something that did not surprise Preston. "Scott Peckham had his best performance today, while Andrew Brunton has to be pound for pound the best player in the CIAU."
Western star middle man Travis Wintjes was also pleased with his teammates' performance, "Jeremy [Jonckheere] and I played great as the two middle players and with the connection we had with setter Scott Peckham, we gave McMaster problems."
The Mustangs, now 9-0, are heading into the playoff run on the rise. The win over McMaster was key to the post-season stretch in Wintjes' mind. "We needed the win for the unbeaten record and also for team morale. We were in a lull for a while but we are getting on the up-slope at the right time."
Preston was not willing to say the Mustangs have peaked after having reached a 9-0 record and feels the team is still a little behind where they should be at this time in the season. "We're better than two weeks ago and are finally transferring what we do in practice onto the court. It is still the small things that we have to eliminate," he said.
Although it's not at the performance level desired by the coach, the team is still unbeaten and the Mustangs are aiming to hold onto home court advantage in the OUA playoffs.
"It doesn't matter if we end undefeated, but if we gain home court advantage for as long as possible. With the crowd and our bench, [Alumni Hall)] is a tough barn to play in," Wintjes said.
The raucous crowd of approximately 100 spectators was complemented by an emotionally charged Western bench.
"Our bench is loud, knowledgeable and always ready to play and they give us good feedback," Wintjes said. "They create a situation where it is our 12 against the other team's six."
Preston agreed with his co-captain and went on to say that the crowd played a key role in Wednesday's triumph.
The Mustangs will face their sole threat in the OUA West division when they face the 6-1 Windsor Lancers tonight at 8 p.m. at Alumni Hall.