The Mustangs women’s volleyball team couldn’t stop the comeback from the visiting Brock Badgers, who after losing the first set, were able to rally and get the five-set victory.
“This is the first time in five years we’ve beat Western in their gym,” Dale Melnick, Badgers head coach, said.
This year Alumni Hall hasn’t been the comforting home it used to be for the Mustangs. Compared to last year’s squad that only dropped one match at home, this year’s team has yet to register a win on their court. Mustangs head coach Dave Edwards said his team was frustrated with their struggles at home.
“In the past we may have lost three games [in]our last six to seven years here,” he said. “It’s disappointing.”
Brock came out aggressive in the first, and the Mustangs fell behind 10-5 early in the opening set, forcing Edwards to call a timeout in hopes of refocusing his team.
It definitely did the trick, as the Mustangs were able to take their first lead of the game after a block from middle hitter Kelly Frittenberg put them up 15-14. The Mustangs carried that momentum and took the opening set 25-20.
After the game, Frittenberg explained that nothing revolutionary was said during the timeout, but rather it just allowed the team to focus on their game and come out swinging.
“That’s how we came back,” she said.
The second set began much the same, as the Badgers were able to pull ahead 6-1 early on forcing Edwards to once again call his team to the side. With clutch serving courtesy of Danielle Marshall, the Mustangs were able to get back into the set and take an 8-6 lead.
But the Badgers stormed back with a 10-1 run to take the 16-9 lead into the technical time out. With some timely kills from middle hitter Rachel Rooda, the Badgers closed out the set 25-19 to tie the match up at one set apiece.
The third set followed suit, as once again Brock was able to get the early lead and never looked back. Western tried to make things interesting towards the end of the set, getting as close as 20-23, but Brock’s Lucy Mclay delivered a massive kill to squash the Mustang comeback, and Brock took the set 25-22.
“I’m really proud of my girls only because they showed the patience, the composure and the maturity to settle down and play our side, and not so much Western’s game,” Melnick said.
But Western wasn’t ready to surrender another home loss just yet, and the young team came out swinging in the fourth. The Mustangs were able to control the majority of play during the set, and going into the technical timeout held a 16-12 lead.
“The game of volleyball is all about momentum and they had the momentum for [the second and third] sets, but we were lucky we were able to pick it back up in the fourth,” Frittenberg said.
The third-year middle led the Mustangs with 11 kills and 4 solo blocks, and after Western earned the set point off, she stood tall and blocked the Brock attack giving the Mustangs the 25-23 set win, and sending the match into the fifth and deciding set.
The fifth set proved to be the closest of the match with both teams exchanging points and neither team able to gain any sort of momentum. But that all changed when a ball sent over from the Mustangs side, which looked to just catch the right sideline, was called out tying the game at 10.
“It’s one call, and there were times earlier when we had control in that fifth set and we let it slip away,” Edwards said. “I think we let our emotions take [over] a little bit there and the momentum shift went to Brock.”
With the score 14-12 in Brock’s favour, Rooda delivered her match leading 15th kill of the game and secured the five-set victory for her team. After another loss at home Frittenburg expressed her frustration with her team’s play.
“We really shouldn’t have lost this game tonight and it shouldn’t have gone to five sets, but that’s just the way volleyball is—it’s all about momentum.”
Despite their recent loss, the Mustangs are still .500 on the season, and Edwards is confident that his young squad will continue to improve as the season progresses.
“We are taking steps forward and that’s the important thing,” he said. “You’re not going to win a championship at the end of October or [the] end of November. It’s a long way to go yet, but we’re pleased with where we’re going.”