Mustangs dominate Lancers at home after disappointing road trip

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Despite already securing a position in next weekend’s Ontario University Athletics quarterfinals, the Western women’s volleyball team came out with a bang on Friday night, dominating the Windsor Lancers 3-0.

Senior Leah Towell described the Mustangs mentality as both confident and motivated heading into Friday’s match.

“We felt very excited to play and for the chance to come out strong after last weekend’s disappointing play against Mac [Marauders] and Guelph [Gryphons],” she said. “It was really about us out there and not who our opponent was.”

A solid kill by senior Lauren Willoughby opened the play and set the stage for what would be an easy Mustangs victory. A fierce combination of powerhouse offence and steady defence gave the Mustangs the early lead, leaving the Lancers struggling to keep up.

Not only were Willoughby’s kills commanding, but with her swift digs and tremendous blocks alongside teammates Towell and Elaine Screaton, she played an integral part in the opening set, which saw the Mustangs tally a 25-14 victory.

Windsor was more focused at the start of the second set, and despite Western’s relentless defence led by libero Andrea Ruste, who tallied 11 digs over the course of the match, the Lancers were determined to hang on.

Strong play from Screaton was matched by Windsor’s Brianna Binder, who was a standout for an otherwise fading squad.

When asked about her team’s struggle to compete, Windsor head coach Marilyn Douglas discussed what contributed to the Lancers’ failed attempts.

“[We are] a young team relying too much on one or two veterans,” Douglas said. “That was a problem for us because Western established its whole game plan against Binder, be it [by] serving her or blocking her.”

Towell’s powerful kills gave the Mustangs the motivation they needed to pick up the intensity and take control of the set.

Steady serving by Willoughby, followed by three vicious kills courtesy of Western’s Jacqueline Robinson proved to be too much for the Lancers. The Mustangs put the second set away, 25-16.

The third set unraveled much like the previous two. Robinson continued to be a threat on the Western attack, contributing defensively alongside teammates Nicole Smyrnios and Ruste.

But a narrow lead of 8-7 had coach Lowrie calling for a timeout. His words sparked fire in his squad and the Mustangs took hold of the game and never looked back.

Solid serving courtesy of second-year Sara Farrell, combined with rookie Sarah Johnston’s dominating offence, proved the younger players were up for the challenge. The Mustangs defeated the Lancers by a score of 25-16 in the third and final set, taking the match 3-0.

Reflecting on her final regular season match of an outstanding varsity career, Towell had only good things to say about Friday’s experience.

“It definitely was a bit emotional going into the game, knowing that it would be the last time playing at home " I know it was especially emotional for Lauren, who’s given four great years to Western volleyball.”

Towell’s standout performance was an influential force on the court, but she was quick to credit her teammates for their solid play.

“I thought Lauren had a great game offensively, and Sarah [Johnston] came in and had an amazing game at the net,” she said. “Andrea led our passing game last night and it was better than we’ve had in a long while, while Jackie hit really well.”

Douglas was supportive as she shared her thoughts on what lies ahead for this determined Mustangs team.

“If they get the right match-up in the quarterfinals and take care of business there, anything can happen in the final four,” she said.

Western will be on the road for its quarterfinal match-up.

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