Volume 95, Issue 54

Tuesday, January 9, 2002
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Mustangs come close in Classic

Western still perfect
Hockey team pastes Waterloo

Express route to victory
Mustangs naughty, not nice to foes

Holiday rundown

Mustangs come close in Classic

Team loses in final against Montreal

By Dave Martin
Gazette Staff

While most of us were stuffing down the last mouthfuls of home-cooked meals last weekend, the Mustang women's volleyball team was hard at work competing in the Western Women's Volleyball Classic.

After seeming invincible in the four team round robin, the Mustangs lost in straight-sets to the fifth-ranked team in Canada from the University of Montreal.

Even with the loss, Western head coach Dean Lowrie was happy with his team's results during the holidays.

"Although we ended up losing in the finals, the tournament was quite a success for our team," he said. "Christmas competitions are always interesting as you can usually use it to set up for the second half of the season, but with us being quite a young team, we were able to use it to keep developing our overall performance."

The Mustangs opened the weekend with a solid victory over the eventual champs from Montreal (17-25, 25-20, 25-16, 25-23), which Lowrie said was a great start for his team.

"We had played them earlier in the year and even though we lost, we knew we had the potential to beat them. We proved that to be correct and the victory definitely set us off for a good weekend," he said.

Beth Kerim/Gazette
LOCKED AND LOADED. Mustang Janet Stewardson uses her monkey arm to send the ball into a different zip code while Rachel Loewen looks on in admiration.

The team won the next three matches in straight sets over St. Mary's (25-15, 25-20, 25-23), McMaster (25-21, 25-21, 25-19) and St. Mary's again (26-24, 25-16, 25-17) in the semifinals.

Two of the three sets in the finals were extremely close (25-23, 25-18, 26-24). Lowrie said Montreal got small momentum swings at perfect times.

"The game was very close. We controlled parts and they controlled parts throughout, but they seemed to get their little runs at the right time and with a couple points here and there going our way and the match could have had a very different result," he said.

Team veteran Katie Havers felt Montreal gained an advantage with their ability to turn the ball quickly and keep it alive.

"Montreal had a really good transition defence and they got the ball coming back at us a lot quicker than we were used to. They had a couple players who were able to dig almost everything we sent at them making it much more difficult for us to win points," Havers said.

Fourth-year setter Rachel Loewen said the loss hurt, but Western still had reason to be happy.

"It always hurts to lose in a final, no matter what it's for," she said. "I felt we played really well and throughout the tournament we achieved the goals we had set out for ourselves – to improve blocking, attack coverage and transition defence."

"Before Christmas, we were getting frustrated with our blocking as we're a relatively big team and this tournament proved we can [block] really well," she said.

Coach Lowrie also noted the improvement in the team's defence.

"Our attack coverage improved and we were getting a lot more blocks than normal throughout the tournament, which was a really positive thing to see," he said.

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Copyright The Gazette 2001