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Season ends with loss
By Dave Martin
Last weekend the Western men's volleyball team travelled to Quebec City where Laval University played host to the 2001 Canadian Intercollegiate Athletic Union Championships.
Having won 14 of their last 16 matches versus CIAU opponents, and led by recently named CIAU All-Canadian Peter Testa, the Mustangs had hopes of surprising their opponents, but lost two of their three matches to finish in sixth place for the second straight year.
Though in retrospect, being the sixth best team in the entire country is rather impressive, and head coach Dave Preston said he was pleased with his team's performance.
"Overall I think the team played really well. If perfection was 100 per cent we were probably at around 80-85 per cent throughout, but those kinds of conditions at nationals make things tougher for everyone. We played probably our best game of the season versus [University of Toronto] which was a really nice to see the team come together like that," Preston said.
The Mustangs earned their trip East through a wild-card berth after losing to the U of T in the Ontario University Athletics finals.
Unfortunately, that meant they were the eight ranked seed, and were forced to face Canada's number one ranked team [and eventual champions] from Manitoba. Though competitive, Western went down 3-0, setting the stage for a rematch with U of T to see who would advance to the consolation finals.
"The guys came ready to play for that game and put together a great all-around effort for the win. We had people step it up such as [middle] Jeremy Jonckheere who played an outstanding game having 18 kills and 11 stuff blocks, and [outside] Luck Schram who put down 25 kills," Preston said.
Jonckheere was quick to point to how well the entire team played, and relished the chance at taking on the OUA champions again.
"It's not often you get a second chance to play someone again in such a critical situation, which made it really nice to redeem ourselves from the disappointing OUA finals. Everything was clicking solid defence, the hitters, guys coming in off the bench it was a whole-team victory," he said.
From there, the competition got even stiffer and Western fell to a stronger team from the University of Alberta in four sets. Golden Bears head coach Terry Danlyuk, said he felt his squad may have had a mental edge.
"Emotionally we were more consistent through out the game. It's tough any time you're playing for fifth and sixth but I think we played like we had less pressure on us," he said.
Although they didn't bring home any hardware, the team learned some valuable lessons and took a lot away from the tournament. Preston said he is looking forward to next season because if the pieces fall right, Western could have a very similar looking team.
"We have the possibility of having five of our six starters back again next year which is what I'm trying to push for as that would definitely make another CIAU berth well within reach. An extra year of maturity would bring a lot more continuity and consistency to the team which would solidify this team as a national contender," Preston said.