Volume 91, Issue 81

Wednesday, March 4, 1998



Winnepeg shows they can cream the CIAU crop in Calgary

©Geoff Robins/Gazette
LOOKS LIKE YOU CHOSE TO BLOCK THE WRONG ROUND THING. Before heading to the nationals Mustang Andrew Coles laced a ball into a Windsor Lancer blocker. Unfortunately for the Mustangs, the blockers at the CIAUs were even tougher, bumping Western to sixth place.

By John Intini

Gazette Staff

The Western Mustang men's volleyball team's sixth-place finish at the University of Calgary last weekend proved solving the mystery of the Canadian championships is as elusive as the Caramilk secret.

Entering the tournament at the bottom of the eight-team bracket, the Mustangs were defeated in the first game by the top-ranked University of Winnipeg Wesmen. But Western head coach Dave Preston said his team hung tough against the eventual tournament champions.

"It was certainly a tough opening draw," Preston said. "We started off pretty solid against them but didn't respond when they turned it up."

Historically, the schools from the West have been the lead competitors and this year's national finals were no exception. Winnipeg took home the gold while Saskatchewan and Alberta respectively won the silver and bronze. Pascal Clement, head coach of Laval, the Mustangs only victim, said the Western Canadian advantage is due for the most part to the merging of the western Canadian leagues and experience.

"When the G-Pack and the West League joined up, it made competition out there similar to national level play," Pascal said. "If Ontario and Quebec want a chance at competing in future years it will be a necessity to find a way to play more cross-league competition."

Even though the Mustangs eventually dropped the consolation final to Dalhousie, Mustang rookie setter Peter Testa was quite pleased with the clubs performance and their ability to move up in the rankings.

"We came here and weren't expected to do anything as is obvious by our ranking," Testa said. "I think that our performance against Laval as well as Toronto's play in the tournament is a good indication that the East is getting stronger."

Mustang Scott Peckham, in his second trip to the nationals, said the end of the tournament was tough for a number of reasons, but mostly because it was the end of co-captains Travis Wintjes and Andrew Brunton's careers, as well as veteran Marc Habash.

"It was pretty tough ending the year with a loss, especially watching the emotion of both Drew and Travis," Peckham said. "The team really wanted [the victory] for our vets especially. It's just unfortunate we couldn't do it."

Preston also commented on the emotion displayed by his seniors, illustrating their desire, stating that he was happy they got one final shot at the title before retirement.

"It was really tough to watch at the end since I have watched these guys grow up at Western," Preston said. "Although we didn't get a medal, another experience at the national level gave the three of them a great way to end their careers.

When asked whether his team can make a return trip to the nationals next year without the skilled seniors, Preston was quite confident in his response.

"Most definitely," he said. "It will be tough losing the three guys but there will be some new guys in their place and based on the performance of the young guys this year, we'll be back."

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

Copyright © The Gazette 1998