Team chemistry integral to Mustangs' success

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Diving for the volleyball

Laura Barclay

GET LOW. A Mustangs player shows some intensity during practice at Alumni Hall. The team has forged a solid chemistry allowing them to post a 12-2 record so far this season.

Many words adequately describe the Western women’s volleyball team including confident, hardworking and obviously, tall. What is most striking about this tremendous roster of athletes is their team chemistry and a collective dedication to the ultimate goal of a provincial title.

Boasting a 12-2 record, tied with the McMaster Marauders for first in the Ontario University Athletics West division, the Mustangs are a standout squad. After catching up with a few team members, it is obvious their success on the court is a direct reflection of the team’s bond.

“We saw right from the start of the year that it’s a pretty special group,” head coach Dean Lowrie said of the team dynamic. “They like being around each other, they like working hard for each other and there’s no little rifts in the group.”

Third-year middle-hitter Sara Farrell added to this notion of team unity.

“We all know each other really well and we’re really tight on and off the court,” she said. “We’re really strong together.”

Equating her personal goals with those of the team, Farrell emphasized the squad’s cohesion.

“My personal goal is similar to the team’s; to make it to the OUA final and then nationals.”

Sophomore outside-hitter, Elaine Screaton, echoed this sentiment.

“We want to walk away from the season as OUA champions.”

Farrell described how a collective team effort trumps individual excellence.

“Our strengths come out when we play as a team.”

Screaton credited a Florida excursion for contributing to the team’s morale.

“Going away to Florida over the Christmas break for training camp really helped; not only to build our team but to help us gain the confidence we needed,” she said.

When asked about the team’s training schedule, Screaton described a typical practice.

“In practice we’ll do a lot of ball control stuff and then we’ll go on to team play at the end, which kind of brings out the competitiveness in everyone. It gets us fired up for the next game.”

Screaton credited intense weight training as significantly contributing to the team’s physical dominance.

“We’ve been doing a ton of weights this year, which is a little bit different from last year,” she said. “We’re usually in the weight room twice a week.

“Just being stronger is helping us all across the court.”

The man behind the training, Lowrie, warrants credit for Western’s steady improvement. He discussed what he hopes to see from his players in their upcoming games.

“Execution and consistency,” he said. “Making sure our level of confidence is as high as it can be without being overconfident.”

Lowrie discussed his part in maintaining a healthy team dynamic and ensuring the team is made up of compatible individuals.

“We work really hard to make sure that we recruit good people,” he said. “We spend a lot of time talking to [recruits] before asking them to come to Western.”

His recruiting skills have clearly paid off and Lowrie has confidence in his team’s potential.

“It’s a good team,” he said. “It’s the kind of group that we’ve won championships with before.”

Lowrie’s players appreciate his approach to coaching.

“He’s pretty intense but he knows what he’s talking about,” Farrell said. “He’s very experienced and I think he knows exactly what to say.”

Screaton acknowledged Lowrie’s strengths as a coach.

“He knows a lot about the technical side of the game and he’s very good at conveying it to the players, which is a good quality to have in a coach.”

Among many other things, Farrell and Screaton are in agreement regarding the best part of being a Mustang.

“[The best part is] just being around the team,” Screaton said. “We spend a lot of time in Lucy’s in between classes, and on the weekends, heading down to Ceeps is always a good time.

Farrell agreed, adding, “I’ve made some really good friends; it’s a great group of girls.”

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