women's volleyball

Mustangs right side Aja Gyimah (#18) reaches for the ball in a previous game against Lakehead.

Fayadh Ahmed / GAZETTE

The battle for who will host the Final Four for OUA volleyball just got a lot more interesting, as both Western and McMaster are top contenders.

Since losing their impressive nine-game undefeated streak to the McMaster Marauders 1–3, the Mustangs are now 10–1 on the season, after they rebounded with a 3–0 win over the Brock Badgers the following day. 

"I'd like to give credit to McMaster, they played very well," said Mustangs head coach Melissa Bartlett. "We honestly played a little bit timid and maybe a little nervous. I was proud of how we responded after the first set, but we just couldn't pull it out." 

After Western's loss to McMaster, both schools are in tight contention for the rights to host the Final Four, and it may come down to slim point margins in both the games between the two powerhouses. The Mustangs still have their sights set on hosting the final four in late February, and have turned their focus to the upcoming game against the defending national champs the UofT Varsity Blues on Feb. 18. 

"We are still on top of the OUA west division standings right now, and we have a few games before we see them, but our focus in terms of hosting final four would be the Toronto game," said Bartlett. "They are currently undefeated, and if we can take care of business in the next couple of games, if we can beat Toronto, than we can still have the opportunity to host final four." 

The Mustangs managed to rally right away, as they traveled from Hamilton to St. Catherines to take on the Brock Badgers less than 24 hours later. With a convincing 3–0 sweep, the Mustangs are looking forward to their rematch against the Badgers this Saturday, as they start to prepare for the game against the defending USports champions. 

"We had a team meeting after the McMaster game, and I was really impressed with the team because they flipped the switch and immediately we focused on Brock," said Bartlett. "I just think that every individual player made the decision that the Mac game was in the past, and we were going to focus on the future going forward."

The Mustangs remain in the USports top 10, dropping from fifth in the country to eighth, although they remain ranked above the tenth-place Marauders. 

"Our captains led the team meeting before we played Brock and they said, 'Hey, this is our chance to prove that we are a top 10 team'," said Bartlett. "One loss doesn't define our season, let's play Western volleyball today and we did that very well."

The Mustangs are taking it one game at a time and are focused on securing another solid win over Brock this weekend. Looking to build some momentum heading into the final eight games of the season, the Mustangs will be in action at Alumni Hall Saturday at noon, for their White Out fan appreciation game.


Claire is a fourth year Media, Information and Technoculture student. She is a second year sports editor at the Gazette. Have a question? Email her at claire.palmer@westerngazette.ca

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