Heading into the final weekend of the women’s volleyball season, the Warriors faced off against Windsor and Western in a win-or-go-home situation.
Lakehead, Western, Brock, and Waterloo (despite having gone through a stretch where they lost 10 consecutive matches) had identical records, fighting for the fourth and last playoff spot in the sluggish Western conference.
The Warriors had momentum on their side as they came off a weekend series sweep at home versus Lakehead. Unfortunately for the women’s volleyball team, momentum did not carry over as they were eliminated from playoff contention Friday night in a tight four-set match loss (25–20, 17–25, 25–21, 25–22), falling to 5–13 on the season, versus Western, who were also fighting to maintain their slim playoff hopes, falling to 5–13 on the season.
After tying up the match one set apiece, Western took advantage of some sloppy Warrior play in the final two sets to take the match. The girls’ struggles with their service reception all night long forced them to commit 16 errors compared to Western’s 11.
Following their defeat to Western, the women’s volleyball team took a two-set lead Saturday night only to see Windsor come back to win a thrilling five-set match (26–24, 25–23, 18–25, 19–25, 10–15), falling and concluding their season with a 5–14 record. With the loss, the Warriors guaranteed themselves a last place finish in the OUA Western conference.
In the first two sets of the match, the Warriors were able to capitalize on some uncharacteristic sloppiness from Windsor, quickly taking both sets 26–24 and 25–23, respectively. Head Coach Luke Snider alluded to Windsor’s shaky play in his comments: “They were really flat in the first two sets, and we were able to capitalize by playing some good, steady volleyball allowing us to take those first two sets.”
In the last three sets, Windsor showed why they’re in third place in the conference and heading to the playoffs, as they picked up the quality and pace of their game. A combination of aggressiveness and execution allowed them to take control and really dominate the final three sets of play, taking all three 18–25, 19–25, and 10–15 respectively.
Snider acknowledged Windsor’s strong play in the final three sets of the match.
“Starting in the third set Windsor began playing much more aggressively and consistently … and really started to challenge our defensive system with their offence.”
Snider also commented on facets of the game that his team dropped in the third set and beyond that allowed Windsor to come back and ultimately take the match. Snider said, “I think the biggest difference in the game was when their offence elevated. We fell a bit short in matching their offence to our defence.”
When asked what he would like to see improved next season, Snider, who was emotional after the game, said, “One of the goals for next season is going to be to balance out our desires with our execution. Sometimes our passion and desire is so dominating that it becomes difficult to execute … when we’re able to achieve that balance we’re a very good team. … becoming a little bit more physical is key so we can go shot for shot with some of the more offensive teams.”
When asked to express his biggest disappointment and proudest moment or achievement, Snider said, “My disappointment of the season is that we don’t have a few more weeks left because I know we are moving in the right direction, which goes hand in hand with what I’m most proud of and that is that every week we showed up a better team. Our improvement from the beginning of September has been steady and dramatic.”
Snider and next year’s cast of girls will hope that more wins and a playoff berth can erase the memories of a tough season marked by close losses and a 10 match-losing streak. As Snider said, “The talent level on this team does not match our record.”