Volume 95, Issue 55

Thursday, January 10, 2002
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Happy New Year... except in Guelph

Western hopes spiked by Queen's

Was it "gold or bust?"

Western hopes spiked by Queen's

Volleyball men settle for second at York

By Ryan Dixon
Gazette Staff

Christine Bryant/Gazette

At the outset of the York Tournament the Western men were running on a full tank of premium.

By the semifinals, they were cruising on a sufficient supply of regular octane. Unfortunately, halfway through the finals against Queen's, they were sucking on fumes.

"We ran out of gas," Western head coach Dave Preston said of his team's 3-1 loss to Queen's in the final match.

According to Preston, the explanation for the lack of fuel was simple.

"We exercised poor tournament management skills," Preston said. The bench boss said a plethora of tight games leading up to the finals – including a thriller with Dalhousie in the semifinals – forced Western to rely on their top players the entire weekend and never had an opportunity to rest their top guns.

Fatigue was visible in both the physical and mental play of the Mustangs. "When you're not physically sharp and you're not mentally sharp, you don't execute," Preston said.

Lack of execution inevitably leads to errors, which, according to Queen's head coach Brenda Willis, Western was making more of than usual. "We were playing almost error free ball and I think Western made a few more errors then they usually would," she said.

Willis said her team had the advantage of having some game experience over the break, as opposed to the Mustangs, who were still full of Christmas rust.

"I think the issue of competitive readiness was a factor. We had just played in the Canada West tournament and were much more match ready," Willis said.

Preston said Western's defensive scoring is often an indicator of how the team is playing.

"One of the most telling factors of how we're playing is how many points we score on defence. Usually we get about 30 per cent of our points on defence. In the fourth set against Queen's, we scored seven per cent," he said.

The turning point was a tight third set when Queen's pulled ahead for good after the teams had split the first two sets. "The third set was pivotal," Willis said. "We squeaked out a big win."

Despite coming away with silver, Preston felt the Mustangs made several solid gains. They set goals for themselves aside from their obvious gold medal aspirations and according to Preston they achieved them.

"We wanted to stay inside our character and our character is to be relentless and we were until we simply ran out of gas. We made it as far as we did on guts," Preston said.

The fact Western made it as far as they did was a positive in Preston's eyes. "We had an opportunity to lose a lot of sets and we didn't – we won them," he said. "We walked away relatively satisfied."

Western left side Luke Schram along with middle Jeremy Jonckheere were named to the tournament all-star team.

Schram said the tournament was an opportunity to get back in the swing of things for the Mustangs after a long Christmas break. Schram said the only remedy for Western will be more game action. "We just need to get our rhythm back and get rid of some of the rust," he said.

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Copyright The Gazette 2002