The Western Mustangs women's volleyball team were one of the few bright spots in an otherwise mostly forgettable winter season for Western athletics.
The Mustangs upset the powerhouse Toronto Varsity Blues in an Ontario University Athletics (OUA) semifinal, earning a trip to the U Sports national championships, where they came home sixth in the country.
The cornerstone of that run to nationals was Kelsey Veltman, a third-year middle and one of the top players in Canada.
Veltman led the conference with 353.5 total points and finished second with 5.2 points per set.
She also finished second with 1.35 blocks per set and third with 3.81 kills per frame.
Veltman was recognized for her accomplishments, winning the OUA West Player of the Year for the third straight year, and was named an U Sports second team All-Canadian. Veltman was a first team All-Canadian last season and was on the U Sports All-Rookie team in 2015.
"It's an amazing honour and something I can't win alone," said Veltman on her awards. "Volleyball is such a team sport, it's hard for a player to stand out without the performance of their team, and I thank the team for helping me achieve it."
In her first appearance in the national championship tournament, Veltman led the Mustangs to a sixth place finish. The Mustangs clinched their spot in the tournament by upsetting back-to-back OUA champion Toronto in the semifinals.
According to Veltman, it was an incredible experience.
"I think we performed pretty well at nationals. Being a first for most of us, we were all pretty nervous," said Veltman. "But we ended up giving the national champs their hardest match, and that's something to be proud of, and obviously beating our rivals and winning the rematch versus McMaster to give us our first national game win was an amazing feeling."
Veltman will look to continue her incredible career next season as the Mustangs work towards going beyond their sixth place U Sports finish and contend for an OUA and national title.
"We are losing a couple players next year," said Veltman on next season's chances for the Mustangs. "But we still keep a good chunk of us. With getting to the OUA finals and nationals, we've created a standard for ourselves and I know we are going to hold ourselves to that high standard for the next years to come."
With Veltman as the foundation of the program, the Mustangs should be in for another deep postseason run in 2017-18.