February 18, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 77  

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SPORTS

Mustangs fall to Marauders — playoffs still ahead

By James Hayes
Gazette Writer

Matt Prince/Gazette
WESTERN SEES THE BIG PICTURE! Mustangs’ women’s volleyball player Melissa Mann hits hard, but it just isn’t enough to defeat McMaster.

There were enough digs and kills to make a mortician salivate in women’s volleyball action at Alumni Hall last Friday night.

Unfortunately, for the Mustangs, there weren’t enough of them coming from the home side to garner a victory against the McMaster Marauders. Western lost three of four sets to the Hamilton visitors, 25-21, 21-25, 25-18, 25-23.

The entire game consisted of good defense, solid blocking and a plethora of powerful spikes from both sides. McMaster’s Arin Bush and Christie Estabrooks provided powerful kills, and Western’s Kyla Simpson was a force inside and provided good service.

“Although we all played well, I thought Arin Bush was particularly steady on the left side,” said McMaster head coach Tim Louks. “Her solid play definitely helped us to victory.”

Western jumped out to an early lead in both of the first two sets, with second-year player Ashley Jones providing solid effort and good dig attempts to save some seemingly inevitable McMaster points. The sets were tight all the way, but not even team mascot JW’s gyrations could save Western from the torrid runs Mac went on near the end.

The fourth and deciding set was the closest of all, with the teams exchanging points and matching stellar play with further solid play. However, McMaster came out on top again, leaving the visitors on cloud nine and Western on a cloud, well — considerably less than nine.

“It’s tough to win here, and this game was a momentum builder,” Louks said, noting that he was satisfied with his team’s performance. “We had a game plan which we stuck to, and I’m happy to see everyone on the team contributing. Any road win, especially against a tough squad like Western, gives you confidence.”

Despite the hard-fought contest, where both sides looked quite evenly matched, the home squad was not nearly as happy with the results.

“We didn’t play well at all,” said Western head coach Dean Lowrie, clearly frustrated with the outcome. “I felt every skill was lacking out there. [McMaster] are a good team, but we have to show up and execute what we’re capable of doing. That didn’t happen tonight.”

The loss was particularly stinging for Western as a win would have secured them a share of the Ontario University Athletics’ West Division title with the division-leading Guelph Gryphons. Both McMaster and Western are playoff-bound and may meet again.

Prior to the game, Western’s sole graduating player, fourth-year science student Kyla Simpson, was honoured for her impressive volleyball career at Western.

“It was nice to be recognized,” she noted. “But it wasn’t the focus of the game. McMaster came in here and capitalized on their opportunities; they competed and came in to win.”

When asked where her team fell short, Simpson pointed to a lack of dynamism. “We didn’t make the necessary adjustments we needed,” she said. “I still think our chances are good in the playoffs — there is a really tight field this year and anyone could take it.”

Playoffs will begin for both teams this coming weekend.

 

 

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