Volume 91, Issue 81

Wednesday, March 4, 1998

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SPORTS
 

V-ball: Mustangs smash OUA weaklings



©Tom Baumgartner/Gazette
WHO SAYS THERE AREN'T REVERSE JAMS IN VOLLEYBALL. Mustang setter Bonnie Matsubayashi gets up high over the net to keep the ball in play. Matsubayashi would be later named a tournament all-star.


By John Intini

Gazette Staff

Although they may not be of the Olympic variety, the gold medals won by the Western Mustang women's volleyball team during conference week in the OUA finals at Alumni Hall will be equally cherished.

The Mustangs bull-dozed victories in all three matches, beating up on Queen's, Guelph and finally Toronto to be awarded the provincial title and a berth in the national championships next weekend.

Queen's coach Lisa Eyles said uncertainty played a factor for the Mustangs in the first match (15-5, 15-3, 15-9).

"They seemed a little off against us which might be explainable due to the fact that a game against us is not a tough enough challenge for a team of Western's ability to get up for," Eyles said. "As is obvious by their control of the whole tournament and great season they are sure to be great representatives from the West."

Mustang head coach Dean Lowrie said his team's ability to pull away when the score was tight, helped alleviate his worries during tough matches against Guelph (15-12, 16-14, 14-16, 15-8 in the semifinal) and Toronto (15-10, 15-11, 15-10 in the final).

"Every time the score was around 10-10 or 9-10 the veterans just took control," Lowrie said. "Those matches were a lot closer then they appeared but it was our team's late surges to close the door that made the difference."

Mustang setter Bonnie Matsubayashi felt the greatest impact came from the incredible play of Mustang left-side player Marnie Simpson, who earned tournament MVP based on her performance.

"She was incredible," Matsubayashi said. "As the setter it was impossible to not give her the ball more often than not. She had some huge kills and played great all weekend."

The tournament victory, which marks the end of both a 21-year drought for the Western program, also breaks a 19-year hiatus of a West division school from the national final.

"It was definitely a team effort this weekend," Lowrie said. "I feel most happy for the veterans. I don't think a national final crossed their minds five years ago when they started here and it is great to see them get a shot after so much hard work."

Matsubayashi, a tournament all-star, was ecstatic about the chance at a Canadian championship and feels it will be the icing on the cake of a great five years at Western for herself, captain Lynn MacDonald and Stephany Cahill, who will all graduate after this season.

"It means the world to us," Matsubayahsi said. "This is an incredible way for us to go out and a perfect way for the eight rookies on the club to start off their careers."

Coach Lowrie conceded to the fact that western Canadian schools are regularly deemed the strongest in the nation, but he feels all schools will be hungry for a medal.

"We proved this year that if our minds are in the game we can compete with anybody," he said. "The nature of the tournament is that a national champion is crowned by winning three games. It can go either way."

The team will play their first game tomorrow night against the University of British Columbia.

"They have been in the top three in the country and are big with a couple of national level players," Lowrie said. "Our job is to play our game and will be prepared come game time."

The Mustangs won the national championships in 1972, '75 and '76 during a seven-year span, between 1972-78 in which they made the finals every year.



©Tom Baumgartner/Gazette
AFTER 21 YEARS WE BETTER NOT DROP THIS. Mustang captains Lynn MacDonald (right) and Bonnie Matsubayashi, are jubilant as they hoist the OUA championship trophy, beating Toronto in the final last week at Alumni Hall.



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