Volume 93, Issue 79

Wednesday, March 1, 2000


SPORTS

Reaching the highest height

Wrestling fever hits hard

Queen's able to squeak by Western

Western silences Thunderwolves

The uphill battle is just beginning

Queen's able to squeak by Western




©Neil Malhotra/Gazette
IT WAS OH... SO CLOSE THIS WEEKEND. Western lost a close match to Queen's university in the men's OUA volleyball finas, but still qualified for the CIAU championships this weekend in Laval, Quebec.


By Chad Thompson
Gazette Staff

The Ontario University Athletics' men's volleyball championship match between Western and Queen's University was a text book example of great volleyball.

The Golden Gaels beat the Mustangs last Saturday, winning the OUA crown in five hard fought sets.

After Queen's took the first two sets 25-23 and 25-20, the Mustangs battled back and won the next two behind impressive play from setter Peter Testa, libero Stuart Pow and right side Jeff Ranson. The fifth set went back and forth until Queen's took a late lead and eventually won the tiebreaker 15-13.

After the match, Western head coach Joffre Ribout said his team had a different pace in the beginning sets than he expected. "We came out slow, we were a little hesitant. It was tough to fight back."

Throughout the match, Western was able to dominate the middle and Ribout said control in that area of the court was part of his team's strategy. "We knew we could beat them down the middle," he said.

He added the loss was a difficult one for Western, as they had reached this point the past three years and have never been able to take the gold. "It rips your heart out. It's the third time we've had to watch another team take the [OUA] banner."

When asked about the play of his team, Ribout summed his players up in a simple, but complimentary statement. "They're fighters, definitely fighters."

Ranson said the team knew Queen's would test their skills. "They gave us a tough go," he said. "They took it hard to us [at the start], but we were able to step it up in the next two sets."

Right side and Western co-captain Craig Rideout said he was disappointed with the loss, but felt they showed a lot of strength in their play. "The team showed a lot of character. Going down two games was a tough position to be in, we pulled something out of a nightmare," he said, adding the fifth set could have gone either way. "It was a tough loss."

Queen's head coach Brenda Willis said she was thrilled with her team's win and had nothing but praise for her opponents. "Western showed a lot of character," she said in reference to their two set comeback. "The game had two very good teams, it was probably the best OUA finals in a long time."

Despite losing the match, Western qualified for the Canadian Interuniversity Athletics Union championships at Laval University, March 4-6. Ribout said his team will have to put this tough loss behind them and concentrate on a good showing at the CIAUs. "It was our goal for the season," he said, referring to the OUA final. "We'll have to take the loss and build on it for the nationals."

Ranson said the team will need to do a little extra preparation for the nationals and predicted an exciting tournament. "You can't sit back or the other teams will kill you. This year is the most balanced year across the country and you may see a few upsets."


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

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