The Western Mustangs women's volleyball team travelled to Toronto for their fourth straight Ontario University Athletics Final Four appearance, sights set on the program's first provincial title since 2011.
On Friday, the Mustangs fell in a 3–1 loss to the dominant Ryerson Rams in their semifinal showdown. The Mustangs came out firing in the first set of the match, taking a 25–21 win. However, the Rams were too much to handle in the second set as they cruised to a 25–16 win to tie the matchup. The third set saw more of the same as the Mustangs fell 25–18 to go down 2–1.
The Rams continued to put a stranglehold on the match as they jumped out early in the fourth set with five straight points to force a Western timeout. The Mustangs would eventually fall 25–16 to lose the match and eliminate themselves from an appearance in the U Sports National Championship tournament.
However, the Mustangs had a shot at taking home hardware in their last match of the season, and they didn't disappoint with a dramatic five set victory over the Toronto Varsity Blues.
The Mustangs came out of the gate flat, as the Varsity Blues cruised to a 25–14 first set victory. The Mustangs continued to struggle in the second set, as their normally powerful scoring attack failed to produce against a stout Toronto defence. While they managed to keep the second set close, the Mustangs found themselves trailing 2–0 after a 25–21 loss.
With their season on the brink of ending in disappointment, the Mustangs pulled it together in the third set behind strong serving play from Aja Gyimah and dominant production from superstar middle, Kelsey Veltman.
Western turned the tables in the third set, winning 25–16 to keep their medal hopes alive. Then, in the fourth set, the Mustangs again powered their way to another 25–16 win to force a fifth and deciding set.
The Mustangs took an 8–1 lead early in the fifth set, as their blocking around the net proved too much for the Varsity Blues to overcome. While Toronto attempted to fight back, the Mustangs took the fifth set 15–8 to win their fourth OUA medal in as many years.
While the Mustangs had a gold medal on their minds at the start of the season, they're still proud of what they accomplished.
"Of course gold is always the goal, but being able to medal in four of four years is also an amazing feeling and a great accomplishment on its own," said Veltman. "Especially when each year comes with its own amazing story."
With their 1–1 record at the Final Four, the Mustangs finish the season with a 15–7 record.
The Mustangs return a number of key players next season, highlighted by Veltman, who has been one of the nation's top players throughout her career.
"The thought of an OUA gold is motivation enough and something we’ll have our sights on on the first day of practice," said Veltman. "Next year we’re getting a good rookie class who will only bring more depth to our team and help us reach our goal and hopefully over the hump."