The November 10 game at the Goldring Centre between the Varsity Blues and Western Mustangs women’s volleyball teams could not have been better as a Friday night plan. In their second game of the 2023–2024 Ontario University Athletics (OUA) season — and their first at home — the Blues played amazingly against the Mustangs despite their eventual loss.
Last season, the Blues finished with a wins record of 9–11 and missed the OUA playoffs for the first time in over a decade. This season, the team started the race for the Quigley Cup with a loss, falling in 3–2 sets in a thrilling match against the Mustangs.
The Blues took the lead during the first set but were closely chased by the Mustangs. A service ace from the Mustangs tied the set at 9–9, but the Blues immediately claimed back the lead. A late timeout from the Mustangs wasn’t enough to stop the Blues from taking the first set 25–21.
The Blues started the second set strong and dominated the game just up to the end of it. Blues setter Robin Melnick contributed with 26 impressive assists. However, close to the set’s end, a timeout from the Mustangs helped them strategize and take the lead over the Blues for the first time. The set closed 26–24 for the Mustangs, tying the game 1–1.
Changing sides for the third set, the Blues took the lead in the beginning with the Mustangs following right behind them. Melnick sprained her ankle in the middle of the set, forcing Blues Head Coach Kristine Drakich to substitute in setter Jenna Peters. Nevertheless, with solid blocks and attacks, the third set ended 24–17 for the home team, with the Blues taking an overall 2–1 lead.
During the fourth set, Drakich observed the match closely while taking notes on her white notepad. She made the necessary substitutions, but despite the team’s effort, the Mustangs came back stronger, closing the set 25–20 in their favour. With the game now in a 2–2 tie, the Blues and Mustangs were set to face off in a dramatic fifth set to end the game.
The final set started with a sense of fear as the visiting team took the initial lead 6–0. Attack and serve errors were fatal for the Blues, who saw the game dissipate in front of their eyes. The set closed with a 15–8 victory for the Mustangs, who took the game 3–2.
On November 11, the Blues had their chance to get revenge on the Mustangs. In another thrilling game, the Blues defeated the Mustangs 3–2, earning their first win of the OUA season. Now, the Blues will travel to Thunder Bay to play two games against the Lakehead Thunderwolves on November 17 and November 18.