Volume 96, Issue 59
Wednesday, January 15, 2003

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Volleyball team down to nitty gritty

By Kasia Sarnecki
Gazette Staff

Niru Somayajula/Gazette
THIS COULD BE BAD! This U of T volleyballer obviously saw something that shook him - probably the score, considering they whooped Western 3-0

A small, but loud and loyal, group of fans showed up on Sunday afternoon at Alumni Hall to support the Western Mustangs men's volleyball team. Unfortunately for the Mustangs, their fan support did not translate into a win, as they lost to the Toronto Varsity Blues in three straight sets (17-25, 20-25, 20-25).

The Mustangs were coming off two losses before the Christmas break and one Saturday afternoon against the Ryerson Rams.

Western suffered from a slow start against the Rams on Saturday, with the Mustangs playing outstanding in sets two and three. Sets four and five were close, but they couldn't pull off the win they desperately needed.

Mustangs starting middle Josh Logan said Western had high hopes heading into the match.

"We practiced hard and [we were] optimistic [about] gaining a playoff spot," he said, however, the loss dimmed those post-season aspirations.

The Mustangs are currently in a logjam with Ryerson, McMaster and Waterloo for the fifth and sixth playoff positions. In the Ontario University Athletics division, six teams advance to the coveted playoff round.

"Ryerson hurt us emotionally Saturday afternoon. We were so close and in control but we [had] a problem finishing," said Western head coach Jim Sage.

The Mustangs were less optimistic coming into Sunday's game against the University of Toronto Varsity Blues.

"We again had a problem finishing. That was the biggest problem on Saturday – we need to focus on our side and improve each game," Sage said.

Toronto is ranked first in Ontario and fifth in Canada, making them the most difficult team in Ontario to play.

"The concern now lies in finishing. It's a difficult thing to practice, but the team has a lot of desire and talent and I know it's possible," Sage said.

Toronto has been on a winning streak for most of the season and continued that streak on Sunday afternoon.

"We have a really strong team again this year. Coming into today's game, we anticipated that Western would go to the outside and we made sure we were there," said Varsity Blues head coach Orset Stanko.

Sunday's game had the Mustangs all over the court and a few questionable calls had them annoyed. "The calls were mostly discrepancy calls – we just put them behind us and kept playing," Logan said.

Western put up a great fight, with left side Peter Sidler and right side Jeff Mattingley creating problems for the Blues. "Mattingley and Sidler had a great game – we just had to make sure that we minimized unforced errors," Stanko said.

The key to the Mustangs' next few games is going to be to focus on finishing. Their next game is against the Windsor Lancers on Wednesday night in Windsor. The Mustangs are back home on Friday against the Waterloo Warriors.

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