Volume 92, Issue 74
Tuesday, February 9, 1999
Quest for West begins
© Dipesh Mistry/Gazette
By John Intini
Spiking the Waterloo Warriors tonight in the West division semifinal at Alumni Hall is the first step in the Western volleyball team's quest for a national title.
The Mustang men finished the regular season atop the West division standings, losing only once in 10 league games. Western's only loss came at the hands of the Guelph Gryphon squad, who played their hearts out Saturday night in an attempt at squeaking into the playoffs. Although Guelph won the five set match over Western, circumstances beyond their control allowed the Waterloo Warriors (5-5) to fill the fourth and final West division slot.
Mustang co-captain Craig Rideout described the Guelph game as an eye-opener and proof the club is not invincible. Middle Jeremy Jonckheere mirrored his teammate's comments.
"The Guelph game was a good gut-check for us," Jonckheere said. "If we had to lose a game, [Saturday] night was as good a time as any."
Preston said the club has to improve their defence, specifically their blocking and digging, which he described as lacking in Saturday's loss.
"The plan is not to introduce a new plan but rather to simply revise what we already have," he said. "We let a lot of easy shots through for points against Guelph which has to be addressed."
Western will also have to contain middle Jason Hubbard and right-side Jeff Lingard Waterloo's two biggest guns. Both Warriors missed the last clash with Western due to injuries.
According to Preston, the physical size of the Warrior club is their greatest strength, matching up well with Western's size.
Although Western has beaten Waterloo in their two previous meetings this season, Preston said the return of Hubbard and Lingard will make the game a tough one.
"Waterloo made the playoffs and have as much fight in them as any other team," Preston said.
Waterloo head coach Doug Hanes admitted the chances of beating Western are slim but he is hoping his top players will have a big game and make the match a good one.
"Western is by far the biggest and best team in the league," Hanes said. "They should be able to beat us, but their loss to Guelph on the weekend proves they aren't unbeatable."
Although Rideout, Western's outside hitter, is expecting a much better match out of a healthy Waterloo team, he is quite confident in his club's playoff chances.
"I am very confident that the guys are going to come out against Waterloo and light it up," he said.
The Windsor Lancers and Wilfred Laurier Golden Hawks will meet in the other West division semifinal. The winners of the two semifinal games will meet Friday for the start of a best of three series held over the weekend.
Western is scheduled to match up against Waterloo at 8 p.m. tonight.
Copyright © The Gazette 1999