Volume 93, Issue 56
Wednesday, January 26, 2000
Dalhousie tourney has silver lining
I'VE ALWAYS WANTED TO BE IN A TOYOTA COMMERCIAL, DO YOU THINK I HAVE THE VERTICAL FOR IT? Western's men's volleyball team travelled out East this weekend and brought home the silver from the Dalhousie Classic.
By Chad Thompson
The worst winter storm in recent memory hit Nova Scotia last weekend, but failed to stop Western men's volleyball team at the annual Dalhousie Classic tournament. The team fought back from an early loss to capture the silver medal.
The first round defeat came at the hands of the University of Sherbrooke in a five set match (25-27, 23-25, 25-20, 25-21, 12-15). "We knew it was a big match. [After the loss] we had to win the next three to make it to the finals," said Peter Testa, Western's co-captain and setter.
And that's exactly what they did as they beat Queen's, York and Dalhousie universities to make it to the gold medal match against the nationally fourth ranked Unversity of Sherbrooke. Unfortunately, Western came up short in the gold medal match and lost in straight sets (25-23, 25-23, 25-21).
Western head coach Joffre Ribout said he felt the tournament was successful. "We built up a lot of momentum and improved our play during the tournament."
Both Ribout and Testa agreed the tournament did wonders for the team's morale. When asked about the tournament's biggest reward, Ribout said it was the way in which the team gelled. "Our attitude has been struggling recently," he said.
"We stepped up our unity and all around play with communication, blocking and skills in general. It took us to the next level," Testa said.
Ribout added he hoped the tournament would be a building block for the team. "We have to keep working on our attitude, keep our level of play at the national level and maintain that level with our local competition. We have to make sure we respect the teams in our division and make sure we remain focused on our competition."
Testa added with the intense level of play characterizing the league, it could be anyone's year. "To be honest, with the calibre of play in the league, anyone has a shot at winning. No one team is hands-down the best. It's a dogfight for every match and every point or side-out."
Testa also said the tournament was of great importance for the rest of the season. "Going into the weekend, I'm not sure whether or not some of the guys realized it, but it was a make or break tournament. We know now what it takes [to play at a national level]. Players one through 12 know the dedication and hard work it will take for the next month and a half for nationals."
Wally Dyba, York Yeomen head coach, said the performances of the Ontario University Athletics teams showed an improvment in volleyball in Ontario. "The OUA is viewed by many as the weak sister in the [Canadian Interuniversity Athletics Union]. It is nice for us compete with other strong schools. It was nice to have Western in the gold medal match."
As far as predicting the OUA finals, Dyba said he expected Western would have a strong showing in the playoffs. "We figure they should win the OUA West and if we win the OUA East we will meet them in the OUA finals. We know what to expect [from playing them]."
Western's next game is tonight against the Guelph Gryphons at 8 p.m. in Alumni Hall.
Copyright © The Gazette 2000