Volume 93, Issue 79
Wednesday, March 1, 2000
Reaching the highest height
©Gazette file photo
SETTING UP FOR THAT GOLDEN SPIKE. The women's volleyball team was preparing over the weekend for the national championships, as they brought home OUA gold.
By Sean Maraj
King Midas better watch out it's Western's women's volleyball team who have the golden touch.
The Mustangs finished their regular season before reading week without a blemish. All that remained for the team was the Ontario University Athletics championships in Toronto last weekend, where they walked away with the gold medal.
The Mustangs went into the tournament ranked number one and faced the added pressure of winning gold for the second time in three years. The biggest challenge which awaited the team was the semifinal match against the Toronto Varsity Blues, who took the Mustangs down to the wire in a five set thriller.
Western lost the first two sets, but were able to rally together and win the next three, including the tie–breaker, guaranteeing their victory.
Then came the finals, in which the Mustangs faced their rivals from the University of Guelph. The Gryphons were no match for Western's team, who were dominant in a 3-0 victory for the gold medal and the OUA championship.
Western's team captain, Marnie Simpson, said she was ecstatic over the victory and attributed an overall team effort to their final performance at the tournament. "It all came together it was the ultimate team effort. We really brought everyone together and had a moment of brilliance," she said.
Western head coach Dean Lowrie said he was also pleased with his team's effort over the weekend. He cited strong concentration on the court as a major reason for the eventual victory.
"We played with composure," Lowrie said. "During the tournament our defence and intensity picked up."
Simpson added the team's assurance on the court, as well as their ability to communicate, contributed to the championship finish.
"We did a good job of communicating and staying calm in a difficult situation," Simpson said. "We passed really well, that was a big part. Passing really sets the stage for the rest of the game."
Western's slow start against Toronto was the biggest obstacle the team had to face throughout the tournament, Lowrie said. He added it was difficult to handle the stress which accompanied holding the number one ranking going into the championships.
"We played a little tight at times," Lowrie said. "When you're the highest ranked team it's a little bit tougher."
Toronto head coach Kristine Drakich said she was pleased with her team's performance throughout the tournament, adding they simply lost some steam in the end. "Everyone played their best volleyball of the season. Our passing broke down a little bit in the third game which caused some unforced errors and then the wheels sort of fell off," Drakich said.
"Western was a little bit tentative at the beginning and then we were a little bit tentative at the end and that made the difference."
The Mustangs are now off to Winnipeg to compete in the Canadian Interuniversity Athletics Union championships. Western will play the University of British Columbia in the first round, as they begin their quest to cap a perfect regular season with a perfect ending. Lowrie said his sights are already set on finishing on top.
"We're going out to win a medal. We were there three years ago and we know what it's like. The bottom line is, we're going to win a medal."
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