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Seniors fight 'till bitter end
By Pat Kane
Alumni Hall was the site for a very special evening of volleyball, as five Mustang women appeared in their final regular season match last Friday.
Katie Havers, Jill Gottschalk, Jen Wheeler, Bridget Campbell and Sonja Janischewski were honoured for their great contributions to the Western volleyball program prior to a match that saw the Mustangs close out the season with a win over Laurier.
In a very tight contest, the Golden Hawks fell to Western 25-13, 25-18 and 15-7. Mustang head coach, Dean Lowrie, said he is still expecting his team to find a groove to settle into as they enter the first playoff round this Saturday.
"Our effort today was great and I think our effort is always there," he said. "We're just struggling with our mindset going into these kind of games near the end of the year. We're putting a lot of pressure on ourselves to be really successful in the playoff drive. We just need to settle down and find our range."
Lowrie gave credit to the scrappy Laurier Golden Hawks, who made Western fight for the win. The victory extends the Mustangs' win streak to 10 games thanks to a steady and hardworking defence.
"When we didn't win games we were making offensive errors, but when we are winning we're beating them with a steady offence and good defence. We pride ourselves on our defence and especially on our blocking," Lowrie said.
Much of the blocking came from the 'Western Wall,' provided by middle blocker Katherine Kiss and outside hitter Lyn Turkington. Kiss currently leads the league in blocks with an average of 1.78/game.
Mustang senior and middle blocker Sonja Janischewski, said she felt her teammates played well in a match that was filled with emotion.
"I thought we fought hard. This game means a lot to the graduating players and we were all very emotional beforehand. Once we settled down, we began to execute offensively and frustrate Laurier with our defence. Jen Wheeler played especially well. She can dig up any ball, she's incredible," Janischewski said, adding she hopes she and her team can raise the level of play for the playoffs.
"We need to play better in the playoffs. These are the types of teams we're going to see, and as long as we can keep things controlled on our side of the net we should be fine," she said.
Laurier head coach, Dave McIntyre, said the match was very entertaining and gritty, but thought that the overall play was very poor on the part of both clubs.
"We didn't play especially well by our standards but then again, neither did Western. They made a lot of errors, which is surprising to see. I didn't think they played up to potential" he said.
McIntyre also said the two squads could meet one more time the Ontario University Athletics' finals.
"If we play Western again, it would only be in the finals because of the playoff format. It would be good for the two programs and great for the West Division conference. It'll be interesting to see what happens," he said.
The Mustangs will be looking to overachieve in the post-season and capture their third OUA title in four years.