After splitting the first two games to go 1-1 on the season, the Mustangs women’s volleyball team was determined to be above 0.500 at their home opener when they took on the Queen’s Gaels on Saturday. But when playing in front of the home crowd, nerves are sure to be a factor.
“We have practiced really hard all week, so we knew this was going be a tough game especially because it was our home opener,” Kelly Frattenburg, Mustangs middle, said. “There’s a lot more nerves, and we knew they were going to come out hard. We just thought we’d go out and give it our all-that was kind of our mentality.”
However, things didn’t go the Mustangs’ way. Though they put up a valiant effort against their bitter rivals, the Mustangs lost 3-1.
“Last year we embarrassed them in our gym. The girls were going to come back here wanting revenge. They wanted to win more than we did tonight,” Dave Edwards, head coach for the Mustangs, said.
The rivalry between the two schools didn’t impinge on the Gael’s mindset at all.
“I know there is a history between Queen’s and Western, but we prepare for every match the same and I think the girls were prepared to do whatever they needed to do, regardless of the opponent,” Joely Christian-Macfarlane, head coach for the Gaels, said.
The Mustangs got off to a decent start in the first set, matching the Gaels point for point. That was until Becky Billings of the Gaels hit several clutch shots to win the first set for the Gaels by a score of 27-25.
The second set was more of the same, as Billings and the Gaels went up 18-6 in the frame, until the Mustangs turned it on. Led by some important hits by Frittenburg, Rebecca Oxland and Danielle Marshall, along with clutch blocks by Frittenburg, the Mustangs battled back to win the second set 28-26.
“It was one of those times where a coach has to say something to motivate them a little bit. They came back and played very well and it was kind of a turning point,” Edwards explained.
Losing the second set didn’t sit well for Queen’s and in the third and fourth sets, momentum shifted back in the Gael’s favour. The Gaels went on to win the third and fourth sets by scores of 25-17 and 25-21 respectively.
“I was hoping we would carry the momentum into the fourth set, but obviously it didn’t happen for us,” Edwards commented.
“We had a huge lead in the second set and let it go, and I think they realized how hard they would have to work if they wanted to win the match. It was a realization for them. I didn’t say anything to them. I let them figure it out,” Christian-Macfarlane said.
Both teams lost some key players this year, and are both in a process of rebuilding and easing the new girls to the competitiveness that is Ontario University Athletics.
“We’re transitioning from a full starting six to some girls who are new on the court, so right now it’s about learning how to play together and get better and better every match,” Christian-Macfarlane said.
The loss of players is especially hard on the purple and white, who lost Jenna Thomson along with five other important players. At the moment the Mustangs are without the leadership and veteran savvy that Thomson brought to the team.
“We lost six starters from last year which makes a huge difference. They are a young team. Our key to success is hard work and effort,” Edwards said.
“We are waiting for someone to step up to that position. We are still trying to find our voice,” he continued further.
However, Edwards may not have to look farther than Frittenburg to find his next leader of the women’s squad.
“We have a super young team—the whole dynamic is a little different. I’m starting to play more of a leadership role. There’s a little bit of pressure but it’s a lot of fun,” Frittenburg said.
After this game, the Mustangs now know how they must approach future teams and attain success during the season.
“Learning from our mistakes, we’ve got to communicate more, work more as a team rather than as individuals,” Frittenburg remarked.
The Mustangs also suffered a 3-0 loss on Sunday when they hosted the Ottawa Gee Gees. They will look to turn it around on November 12 when they travel to Ryerson to faceoff against the Rams.