Mustangs sweep Hawks, will host OUA Final Four

OUA Women's Volleyball Quarter-final

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

OUA Women's Volleyball

Jonas Hrebeniuk

KEEP ON REACHING FOR THE SKY, LADIES. Western's women's volleyball team advanced to the OUA Final Four after crushing the Laurier Golden Hawks 3-0 Friday.

With home court advantage on its side, Western’s women’s volleyball team showed yet again why it’s the team to beat in the Ontario University Athletics West division, defeating the Laurier Golden Hawks 3-0 in Friday’s OUA quarter-final.

Before the game, Mustangs head coach Dean Lowrie said it was important for Western to play its style of game and for his hitters to go for better kills.

“What we’ve asked from them is to play how they’ve practised all week,” Lowrie said. “You’re going to see our power hitters hitting some bigger angles and a little bit more velocity today.”

Immediately, Laurier came at Western with a furious attack led by outside hitter Kaitlin Sauder.

Sauder said the Hawks tried their best to prepare for the game.

“We’ve been practising all week,” she said. “We just basically tried to put together all those things we worked on.”

That effort translated into a 6-2 lead by the set’s first break; Western faltered on several attempts to contain Laurier’s attackers.

However, Western regained its focus and whittled away Laurier’s lead. After several long rallies, the Mustangs won the set 25-23 with powerful kills and consistent digging.

The second set was nothing like the first; Western roared to a seven-point lead and never looked back. Once again, steady veterans Julia Hall, Erin Miller and Stephanie Ruste contributed points in the lopsided game. Western won 25-10.

Western assistant coach Dave Edwards emphasized knowing where Laurier’s big hitters were and neutralizing them.

“We needed to adjust our blockers and pick up Kaitlin Sauder,” he said. “We knew she was going to have a big game, and we certainly picked up her angles and shut her down pretty well.”

The Mustangs displayed their true killer instinct in the third set. Laurier appeared tired and flat, committing service errors and passing poorly " mistakes the home squad exploited.

Edwards said he knew the matchup would come down to heart.

“We really worked on keeping the moment " and each point " as it came,” Edwards said. “I said in our huddle that we really wanted to play with some passion and some heart tonight.”

Although Laurier found its second wind, it was too late in the set for any sort of counterattack. A lack of depth and consistent play helped usher the Golden Hawks out of the OUA playoffs with a 25-20 loss in third set.

Laurier head coach Dave McIntyre thought the two-week preparation period his team had before Friday’s match was enough time to know Western’s game plan.

“I thought we knew them, and the first set showed how tough we played,” McIntyre said. “In the second set, there was only so much you could do against mental mistakes that we committed. It was tough to get any flow going.”

Western now enters the semifinal with home court and plenty of momentum. The Mustangs host the OUA Final Four at Alumni Hall Feb. 23-24.

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