Volume 95, Issue 73

Tuesday, February 12, 2002

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Rookies shine against Waterloo

Emotion spurs on Mustangs

Rookies shine against Waterloo

By Anthony Lafratta
Gazette Staff

In a symbolic 'passing of the torch,' the departing seniors gave way to the emerging rookies in women's volleyball at Alumni Hall on Saturday.

Prior to the Mustang's 3-0 (25-14, 25-13, 26-24) drubbing of Waterloo, a pre-game ceremony honoured five Western seniors: Katie Havers and Kelli Toner, who will complete their final year of eligibility and Rachel Loewen, Diane Clarke and Janet Stewardson for who await impending graduation.

On the court, the seniors gave way to the rookies, as many substitutions were made to allow the seldom-used Mustangs to shine against a weak Warriors team.

With the first set in hand, the Mustangs brought in three rookies off the bench to close out the set. Western head coach Dean Lowrie wanted to try out his under-used young players against the last place Warriors.

"We made some subs and I saw some great things from some young players today," he said.

With the pending departure of some of his top players for next season, a match against a struggling Waterloo team presented Lowrie with an excellent chance to observe his rookies.

"I knew a week ago that this would be an opportunity for them to play. They've worked hard all year and [didn't] play a lot. Chelsea [Thomas] had a good game, she's 6-3, and [has] a tonne of potential," Lowrie said.

Rookie middle Chelsea Thomas was thrust into a key role in the game. For a seldom-used player Thomas said, it was a thrill to be able to play such a pivotal role.

"It feels really good to get out there and play and be part of the team. [To be able to] fill your role and actually live up to the standard that they've been setting for me has been huge," Thomas said.

Waterloo wrapped up a disappointing 1-17 season.

For head coach Jennifer Herzog the outcome of the game was not of the utmost importance. "We just wanted to have fun," she said. "They should enjoy the last game they played together, so now we have some time to rest and recuperate for next year."

Western came into the game on a 2-5 slide, but the win secured them a second place divisional finish, as they moved to 10-7 on the season with one game remaining next week against McMaster, which should serve as a litmus test for the Mustangs.

"Waterloo is a really young team, I don't know [if this game] was really an indication of where we're at, so next weekend's going to be more of a true test for us, but I'm happy that the girls were focused they knew that Waterloo wasn't very strong, but they wanted to be focused the whole night and they were," Lowrie said.

After next week, the Mustangs will have their sights set on the playoffs. "I think we're going to dominate," said Thomas. "We've worked through a lot this year and I think it would be huge for us to do it and I think we can do it if everything goes well."

"They're a strong team," added Herzog. "If they play as well as they can, then I think they'll be a strong contender."

Niru Somayajula/Gazette
THAT DAY SHE LEARNED NEVER TO START "THE WAVE" UNLESS YOU'RE IN THE STANDS... IT WAS LIKE SO EMBARRASSING. The Mustangs showed their 'A' game with a straight sets win over Waterloo Saturday.

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Copyright The Gazette 2002