The Mustangs women’s volleyball team geared up for two away games this weekend against the McMaster Marauders and Brock Badgers. This will be the second time that the Mustangs, currently ranked fifth in the U Sports Top 10, will play against the unranked Marauders this season.
After a win in their first meeting, the Marauders settled the score with a 1–3 loss on Saturday, reducing the Mustangs to a one-game lead over the Marauders in the OUA standings.
Accordint to Mustangs head coach Melissa Bartlett, winning that much would've given them a strong chance of finishing first in the West Division, and also to host the Final Four.
The first game between the teams was two months ago at Alumni Hall.
“They serve aggressively at home, switched out a middle, and they have changed their rotation,” said Bartlett.
These changes in combination with McMaster’s strong play at home will present Western with new challenges this time around.
After their meeting with McMaster, Western will play the Brock Badgers on Sunday for their second game of the weekend. The team is in store for two very different games on their travelling weekend.
The Mustangs will be coming back to Western late Saturday night from McMaster, and leaving early in the morning for the next game.
"It is important to get rest throughout the week," said Bartlett about the tough road trip, "and mentally prepare for the different teams from night one to night two.”
The lack of recent success for sixth-place Brock will allow the Mustangs to send out a couple of different lineups and still pull out a win. This may be important to counter the challenges of back-to-back away games.
While McMaster is predictable in their personnel and rotation, Brock will be more difficult to deal with.
“They are tough to game plan for as they tend to use a variety of different players," said Bartlett. "The focus is on maintaining a level of quality on our side of the net and minimizing unforced errors.”
When asked about the challenges presented by Brock’s home field advantage, Bartlett admitted it's tough.
"It is a challenge to play in that situation when their fans are pretty loud and in your face," she said. "It's important that there is never a quiet moment from the players on our bench.”
Still undefeated and one of only two Ontario teams in the U Sports Top 10, Western heads into the weekend looking to maintain their place at the top of the OUA West standings and increase their chances of hosting the Final Four in February.
“Although that is a secondary concern, as coaches, we are still thinking about it,” said Bartlett.
The Mustangs will play Brock at 2 p.m. on Sunday.