October 17, 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 27  

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Improved volleyball teams set sights high

By Ian Denomme
Gazette Staff

Dave Picard/Gazette
MICHAEL JORDAN’S TONGUE WAG TRANSCENDS SPORTS. A Western Mustangs women’s volleyball player directs the sphere over the net in the Mustangs win over Waterloo on Wednesday.

The women's and men's volleyball seasons started off Wednesday night at Alumni Hall with mixed results, but each team has similar expectations.

The women's team defeated the Waterloo Warriors in three straight sets, while the men's team lost a very close match to the Warriors 3-1 (20-25, 25-23, 22-25, 13-25).

The women started off strong, opening with an 8-1 run. They padded their lead before the Warriors came roaring back, but the Mustangs ultimately took the set 25-19. The final two sets were also close, but Western would go on to take the sets 25-21 and 25-20.

Western had a balanced attack led by the hitting of Jill Pardy and rookie Melissa Mann, who was London's high school player of the year last year.

Despite the sweep, head coach Dean Lowrie saw a lot of room for improvement.

"That was not good Mustang volleyball," he said. "We won, which is important, but we struggled to relax. They did some wacky things and we didn't react very well." "We didn't have the energy we usually do," Mann added. "We can communicate better and when we have that energy we can really pull together and be a good team." Western is ranked ninth in the Canadian Interuniversity Sport preseason poll, but Lowrie said the team tries not to pay too much attention to that.

"It's nice," Lowrie said. "It's good to be recognized, but that doesn't help us win." Overall, the outlook for the team is very good. Despite losing some good players, Lowrie feels this year's team has the talent and experience to excel.

"Everybody is better this year. Last year we were playing a lot of rookies, this year they are all back and are better. Our goal is to win the [Ontario University Athletics]. We haven't been to Nationals in three years and we want to get back," Lowrie said.

On the men's side, the Mustangs have a strong group of returning players who should form a competitive team.

They are led by OUA all-star Peter Sidler, who led the team with 14 kills in the game against Waterloo. Western also has returning starters in Rob Arntfield and Jeff Mattingley.

Head coach Jim Sage was disappointed with the opening loss, but is still optimistic about the season.

"We have more potential this year," Sage said. "We're never satisfied with a loss, but if we focus on the positives and learn from our mistakes we can go far." Sage also said the team's goal is to make the playoffs. He added they take things one day at a time and never look too far ahead because the OUA is so competitive.

"We want to be as competitive as last year," added assistant coach Stu Pow. "Our new additions are having an impact immediately and if they can gel with the guys from last year, we should be successful."




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