York exhausted in 3-1 Mustangs victory

Teamwork proves essential

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Mustangs women's volleyball

Jonas Hrebeniuk

A SPIKE BIG ENOUGH TO MAKE A STEGASAURUS INSECURE. Middle blocker Lauren Willoughby throws down a palm of justice in this weekend's action at Alumni Hall. The visiting York Lions were no match for the Purple and Silver on Friday night.

The women’s volleyball team demonstrated it was the big kid on the block in its easy dispatching of the York Lions at Alumni Hall Friday night.

Marking its 11th consecutive win, the team moved up to second place in the Ontario University Athletics West division standings.

The squad is cohesive despite the fact this is the first year playing for almost half of the girls on the team.

The team’s well-synchronized play led to a 3-1 victory for the ’Stangs.

“In practice we spend a lot of time on defence,” rookie outside hitter Elaine Screaton said. “You get used to working with certain players beside you and knowing what they’re going to do in situations.”

The Lions took the lead at the start of the first set, but Western bounced back thanks to an ace by middle blocker Sara Farrell.

“We wanted to attack them in the middle,” head coach Dean Lowrie said. “One of our big [goals was we] wanted to make sure they didn’t get a lot of white-hot kills from their outside hitters.”

Western’s Jacqueline Robinson landed several kills, and Lauren Willoughby’s powerful serves helped capture the set 27-25.

“I know that, for me, the game is a relief from everything,” Robinson said. “Everything is gone when I step inside that gym, and from that point on nothing else matters because there are 12 other people and they are relying on you to be there and play.”

York had a seven-point advantage in the second set; Western fought hard, but the Lions prevailed, winning 22-25.

“I think especially when you’re behind, you really have to feel confident in yourself and keep pushing hard,” Screaton said. “When you’re winning, it’s easy to know you’re going to get the points. However, when you’re behind you have to have confidence in yourself and your teammates.”

“We were just patient, and that was part of the problem,” Lowrie said. “We were always following them by a couple of points. It’s hard to [get momentum] from that.”

It was a battle of endurance in the first two sets, as both teams pitted the ball tirelessly against one another, each side hoping the other would make the mistake and let the ball drop.

“I love winning in the long rallies because they kill,” Screaton said. “It’s more rewarding than getting the point right off the bat because you work so hard and it feels very purposeful.”

By the third set, the Lions were growing tired while the Mustangs were just gathering speed. Screaton and Willoughby used their height to act as a solid defensive duo and block whatever the Lions sent over the net.

“We’ve had some injuries,” Lions head coach Arif Nathoo said. “So sustaining the length of the match was going to be a challenge for us. They’re a very polished team, and they don’t make many errors; I anticipated balls being returned and long rallies, and I was hoping physically we were ready for this.”

Unfortunately the Lions were not ready for what the Mustangs had in store for them. The Purple and Silver took control and finished the third set 25-22.

In the fourth set, Western took charge, leaving the Lions choking on its dust with a 10-point margin of 25-15.

“It’s so nice being in front,” Lowrie said. “You saw what happened in game four where it was close and we got a gap. We just took it and they kind of cracked. At least when they were up, we didn’t crack.”

“I think Western did a very good job at clawing back, making sure that the ball came over and letting us make errors,” Nathoo said. “That’s what ended up happening. They have a good block and defensively they played very well, and that frustrates us.”

Nathoo confessed that despite their best efforts, the Lions were no match for the home side.

“We anticipated them being a good team,” Nathoo said. “We knew what to expect from the University of Toronto tournament, and we trained for that ... but tonight they played better than us, and they just did really well. Congratulations to them.”

On Saturday night, the women took on the Toronto Varsity Blues, but unfortunately their winning streak ended, losing 2-3 against the Blues.

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