After five riveting sets of volleyball, the Western Mustangs men’s team managed to claw back for a 3–2 victory against the McMaster Marauders last Friday night.
In a nail-biting game against familiar foes, the Mustangs showed tremendous character coming back after losing the second and third sets, eventually shocking the Marauders.
The Mustangs took the first set 25–21. The second set went back and forth, with both teams exchanging set points until McMaster finally pulled out the 30–28 win. This was a pivotal set going into the sets' extra points, as neither team could take full control and secure victory. The third set was another close one, with McMaster edging out a 25–23 win. Western responded with a set win of their own to tie up the match, taking the fourth set 25–20. And in the deciding set, the Mustangs locked down the final set 15–12.
“We knew we were right there," said fourth-year left side Nathan Phelps on the team's mentality heading into the final two sets. “I think we lost those two sets by a combined four points, so we knew we were right there, and if we could just get one or two more points, we could come out with the win.”
With both teams exhibiting talent and focus throughout the match, the game was exciting throughout. As the two teams exchanged blows, the tight scores made losing a set that much more frustrating.
Adding to the sourness of defeat was the tension between the two teams, which spread to the supporters and climaxed in the dying moments of the game. And with the rivalry between Western and McMaster, it was evident from the get-go that tensions were high.
“We had two very good competitive games against them last year, and a lot of the guys are the same, so it’s kind of spilling over from last year,” explained Phelps. “When it’s a tight match like it was today, people get more into it, and you get that tension.”
Coming off a loss against the Windsor Lancers made the victory over the Marauders even sweeter. And having now won three out of their last four matches, the Mustangs head into the December break with a positive mindset. Now at 6–3 on the year, the Mustangs' coaching staff is happy to head into the break on a high note.
“This is the best Christmas present I’ll receive all year,” said Mustangs assistant coach Mike Choja. “This was the best way to respond to the [Windsor] match.… It was so cool to see these guys come back, especially in the fifth set, and defend home court so nicely.”
Moving forward, the Mustangs aim to carry this good form into the second half of the season when they face when they face the Brock Badgers in St. Catharines on Jan. 12. The next day, they will go to Hamilton to face the Marauders yet again, where they will look to reaffirm their dominance over the rivalry.