Team blocks Brock from win

Willougby, Descours key in victory

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Western women's volleyball

Fifth-year volleyballer Lauren Willoughby knew timing would be key in defeating the Brock Badgers Friday night at Alumni Hall.

“One thing that I think that put us at an immediate advantage was the way they approach, which tends to be a bit slower,” she said. “If we were late on closing the block, it almost served us better because the timing matched up so we were at our peak when the ball was coming over.”

Willoughby’s five blocks, along with the team’s timely kills, contributed to Western’s 3-1 win.

Despite defeating the Badgers in four sets, Western struggled early in the match. In the first set, Brock’s defence frequently kept the ball in play and forced Western to make several errors. Although Western’s blocking steadily improved, the Badgers captured the first set 25-20.

Mustangs head coach Dean Lowrie said his team’s nerves got the better of them early in the game.

“We made a lot of errors in the first set,” Lowrie said. “We were a little afraid of the situation. We missed some serves and we hit some balls out. Statistically, we made 16 errors for their points. When the set is only to 25 points and you give up 16 points, it is tough to win.”

Fifth-year outside hitter Caroline Descours agreed the squad lacked confidence in the first frame.

“I think what happened in the first set is that we came out a little bit hesitant. Our season is off to a slow start, so I think confidence is an issue.

“After that first set, we got together and decided we just needed to play and not be afraid to go out and play aggressively.”

The Mustangs did just that, coming out in the second set with big blocks and standout defence of their own. Although Brock kept Western on its toes for the first half of the set, Western’s offence quickly took off, securing it a nine-point lead. The Mustangs’ tough serving eventually won them the set 25-18.

Lowrie indicated some minor adjustments after the first set helped his squad gain some momentum.

“We only made one personnel change " we put Sarah Farrell in the game " and she did a good job ... We started to really focus on a lot of the technique we’ve been working on and we got some good results out of it.”

In the third set, Western’s offence overpowered Brock’s defence and the Mustangs’ strong serving once again spelled trouble for the Badgers. Willoughby and Farrell both had strong rotations in front, and Brock began consistently hitting the ball out. Western’s disciplined block proved too tough for the Badgers and the Mustangs won the set 25-14.

Descours said solid blocking was a crucial part of Western’s game plan.

“They ran pretty offensive middles last time we played them and we had a lot of trouble defending,” she said. “This time we set a much better block against them, forcing a lot of balls to get hit out. As well, we dug them a lot better. We knew their angles ... I think our team can take credit for their errors.”

In the fourth and final set, Brock’s defence regained its composure and the Badgers to took an early lead. However, Western quickly answered back, eventually winning the set 25-20.

Brock’s head coach Lucas Hodgson said his team’s inability to execute the game plan led to its loss.

“Just mentally, the team did not come prepared like we prepared all week. We didn’t follow our game plan, so that broke down our defence. Our blocking wasn’t what it’s supposed to be and we made too many unforced errors. I give Western credit, they played well.”

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