Volume 93, Issue 67
Friday, January 28, 2000
Men and women v-ballers keep pulling in wins
By Jessica Leeder
After sitting in the same spot all season, one would think the women's volleyball team would be starting to cramp up. But with a 13-0 record, they're still sitting pretty in first place in the Ontario University Athletics West division.
Wednesday, for the third time in three straight contests this season, the Mustangs defeated the Guelph Gryphons. The win added some extra room for the team, as they are currently fifth in the CIAU national rankings. The Gryphons, who entered the game holding down second place in the OUA West, saw their record fall to 10-5.
Western head coach Dean Lowrie said there was more than just a game on the line during the match. "There's a lot of history between the two teams. There was more than just this game going on in [Guelph's] mind. They have a lot of veteran players who have played second fiddle to us for their entire careers and tonight would have been [the older players'] last chance to get a win out of us."
Despite the loss, Guelph head coach Linda Melnick said she was pleased with the way her team played. "We came out to play hard, but you can't ignore the fact that Western sometimes gets points just for who they are. In fairness, I think we lost because number 12 [middle blocker Sonja Janischewski] was unstoppable."
Lowrie insisted the win would not have been possible without the stellar defence of libero player Jen Wheeler. "Jen was very good she doesn't get much recognition because her [position isn't glorious]. Tonight she made outstanding passes at key points in the game that put us over the top. She is so stable and so important to us."
Wheeler is the first Mustang to play the libero position which allows her to play in defensive situations only, adding a significant element to the team.
"This way, the middle blockers can concentrate on their positions and I can add my skills to the team. The role is perfect for me," Wheeler said.
With so much hype and a perfect record, the pressure is building on the Mustangs, especially with the playoffs around the corner. "We know our potential rivals out West are very strong, but we give the teams in our league a lot of respect. We always come out fighting because that's how we get stronger," she added.
Lowrie said although their record is clean, the Mustangs still have to fine tune some of their plays. "If there's anything we need to work on it would be to increase our offence and improve our blocking. We'll be working on that in the coming weeks before playoffs."
By Chad Thompson
The weather outside may have been freezing, but inside Alumni Hall the Mustang men's volleyball team was on fire, as they beat the Guelph Gryphons 3-1 Wednesday (25-12, 25-21, 29-31, 25-17).
Western head coach Joffre Ribout attributed the team's fast start in the first set to the carry-over of play from their strong showing at the Dalhousie Classic last weekend.
"That's what we wanted," he said in reference to the first set score. "We maintained our play. After you beat someone 25-12, it's hard to keep focused. We fell [behind] in the second game, but fought back. The third set we fell because [Guelph] made adjustments and we had to make adjustments to them."
Left side Chris Gruhn agreed with his coach's assessment. "We talked about it [after the tournament]. We have to come out fired up for every game," he said. "We started off well, we had the momentum at the start. We relaxed a little, but we jumped on them and had a good finish."
Guelph head coach Doug Dodd said the team was unsure of themselves during most of the match. "We didn't know where we were in the first set. We played tentatively, I'm not sure [if] it was youth or adjustments," he said. "Western played well the whole night."
The highlight of the match came in the second set, when Gruhn lunged at the last possible second to hit a ball which was destined to fall in for a Guelph point, but was turned to Western's advantage and an eventual Mustang win.
"They had been hitting the ball deep all game," Gruhn said. "[Guelph] tipped it over and I went for it, it was definitely not planned."
Ribout had nothing but praise for the third-year player. "Chris is a proven winner," he said, citing Gruhn's two Ontario Federation of School Athletic Association championships and his play on the provincial team. "He knows how to fight [for] every point and make the big play when it counts."
The third game was the most competitive of the match and Ribout attributed the play to good side-outs. "Both teams were spreading the side-outs," he said. "It is good volleyball when that happens."
The game was played in front of a noisy Mustang crowd and Ribout said he thought it enhanced the team's motivation. "I think the guys were fired up [from the fans]. They had smiles on their faces coming into every time out."
The Mustangs will be back in action tomorrow in Windsor when they play the Lancers.
Copyright © The Gazette 2000