Volume 92, Issue 30

Wednesday, October 28, 1998

hot air


Mustang spike squad attack is back

Dipesh Mistry/Gazette
RIDEOUT'S LOOKIN' FOR A SIDEOUT. Mustang co-captain Craig Rideout [8] will be looking for some big kills tonight when Western opens their season in Waterloo against the Warriors.

By John Intini

Gazette Staff

According to the Mustang men's volleyball co-captain Peter Testa, the team's top priority is to win the Ontario championship, a feat last achieved in 1979 when most of the current 'Stangs were still in diapers.

"Our goal is to win Ontario," Testa said. "We came close last year and made it to the nationals but an Ontario title would mean a lot to us."

Testa, the club's starting setter who was named co-captain during the summer, suffered a lateral meniscus tear over a week ago and will be sidelined for the first two and half weeks of the season.

Scott Peckham, who traded setting spikes for running spikes with the varsity track team, will fill in for Testa until he is able to return.

Injuries and inexperience led the Mustang squad to a very bumpy exhibition schedule.

"We had an interesting pre-season since we have lost more games in pre-season than we did all last year," said head coach Dave Preston. "We have struggled for two main reasons. We are young and have had a tough schedule. On a performance scale we will be much better as the year goes on and some of the guys get a bit more experience."

With the loss of four of their big guns and three to graduation while Peckham and Preston will be looking for a number of his other men to carry the Mustang torch. Left side player Gareth Houben will play a key role as the team's defensive specialist, while co-captain Craig Rideout, Mike Wilson and Chris Gruhn will fill the hole left on the outside, thanks to the departure of last year's co-captain Andrew Brunton.

According to Preston, the hole left by the graduation of Travis Wintjes has been filled nicely by the Mustang's tallest man – six-foot-nine Andrew Coles, who was a tournament all-star at the Mustang invitational.

Laurier rookie head coach Paul Pavan said the Mustang inexperience is really quite deceiving.

"They might be young age-wise, but not volleyball-wise," Pavan said. "There are different degrees of young and the kids at Western have had more experience than any other team in the league."

Consistency has been the problem in the pre-season and one that Preston feels must change before their run at a championship.

"We have played give-away, take-away far too much," Preston said. "Although we are making a lot of kills, our errors are washing away anything good we make happen on offence.

"This is a long-term issue," Preston acknowledged. "I can't expect this club to be able to cut down the errors over a couple of games. It is going to take time."

Western looks to start the process tonight when they head to Waterloo in an attempt to tame the Warriors in the season opener

To Contact The Sports Department: gazette.sports@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998