The Mustangs women’s volleyball team defeated the Queen's Gaels 3–1, advancing to the second round of the Ontario University Athletics playoffs, while the men’s season was ended by the Toronto Varsity Blues 3–2 on Saturday.
The women’s team will face the Ryerson Rams to begin their Final Four journey on March 8.
The first set of their first round match began with the Gaels scoring five unanswered points early, leaving the Mustangs down 7–1. The Mustangs were able to draw some momentum late as they had just a three-point deficit at 19–16 thanks to kills by Melissa Langegger, Kate Van Camp and Brooklyn Bere.
The Mustangs eventually went on to lose the opening set 25–19.
The second set of the match had the Mustangs exchanging points with the Gaels, going back and forth until the set was tied 18–18. Late kills by Kate Ferguson, Van Camp, Langegger, and Kelsey Veltman led the Mustangs to a second set victory, 25–20.
The third set was much of the same as both teams were tied late at 20–20. A kill by Carly Kimmett, along with errors by the Gaels, initiated three unanswered points for the Mustangs, pushing the score to 23–20.
The momentum carried through to the end of the set as the Mustangs took it 25–22.
The fourth set was critical, as the Mustangs were leading the match 2–1, needing just one more set win to eliminate the Gaels and move on to the second round of the playoffs. The final set of the match was the closest, as the Gaels were up 24–21 with just one point separating them from forcing a fifth set.
The Mustangs, using momentum from a shot to the face taken by Kimmett, scored five unanswered points, winning the set 26–24 and the match 3–1.
Kimmett talked about how she ended up playing in a different position than she’s used to, as the third-year player played both right side and left side during the match.
“Usually I'm playing right side, but [head coach Melissa Bartlett] kind of wanted me subbing in for left side and right side,” explained Kimmett. “I got the opportunity to play left side which is not usually my normal position and just did what I could help the team.”
Coach Bartlett spoke on how the team had to bounce back from the first set loss.
“To be honest, they played very well to start, their execution was right on, and they were doing exactly what we expected,” said Bartlett. “We just weren't really sharp, so we had to clean some of those things going into set two.”
Coach Bartlett also discussed Kimmett’s performance in the victory.
“I told Carly she was the player of the game,” said Bartlett. “We put her in a position that's not her position, so the performance that she had with those blocks and digs, I'm really happy for her. She works so hard in practice, so she was ready to go.”
The men’s volleyball match was initiated by an early 7–3 lead by the Varsity Blues. The Mustangs were able to get ahead in the set, 12–11. However, the Varsity Blues went on a four-point scoring streak, taking momentum as well as the set away from the Mustangs.
The Varsity Blues won the first set 25–21.
The Mustangs started off the second set exchanging points with the Varsity Blues. The set was close until the Mustangs scored nine straight points due to multiple errors by the Varsity Blues, as the team took a 14–4 lead.
The Mustangs continued to dominate, eventually taking the second set 25–12.
The Mustangs were met with a tougher challenge in the third set, as both teams were tied late at 20–20. The Varsity Blues only managed one additional point, as the Mustangs took a 2–1 lead in the match, winning the set 25–21.
The fourth set of the men’s match saw the Varsity Blues create an early 5–1 lead despite the adversity of facing playoff elimination. The Varsity Blues were able to maintain a multi-point lead through to the end of the set, forcing a fifth game with a 25–21 win.
The fifth set of the men’s match was heartbreaking for the hometown crowd. The Mustangs started the final set with a six-point deficit at 9–3. The Mustangs were unable to create any late-game heroics as they lost the final set 15–8.
With the fifth set loss, the Mustangs lost the match and were eliminated from the playoffs, ultimately ending their season.
Fifth-year Mustang Evan Hammond mentioned how the Varsity Blues were able to take advantage of two critical components of the game while also discussing how his five years on the team impacted him personally.
“[The Varsity Blues] played great, but one of the main keys of the game for us today was to serve and serve-receive, and I think they definitely out-played us in that category which ultimately led to their success,” said Hammond. “[Playing for the Mustangs] has been awesome. Teammates, past and present — we formed a bond that a lot of people don't get to experience.”
Mustangs head coach Jim Sage also talked about his impression of the match.
“We fought hard,” said Sage. “They made a change in their lineup in the fourth and we didn't adapt very well, and we were struggling to find how to attack it."