by Brett Hedges
The Lance – Sports Editor
In their final regular season home game, the Windsor Lancer women’s volleyball team came from behind to defeat the York Lions in a five-set thriller to hit the ten-win mark on Senior’s Day to close out the careers of Shannon Dean, Emily Durand and Lauren Stirling.
The Lancer women opened the weekend by defeating the visiting Nipissing Lakers 3-1 with scores of 25-21, 25-16, 20-25 and 25-19 as part of the Lancer Breast Cancer Awareness Day before dispatching the Lions the next day after falling behind 2-0 and pull off the comeback 3-2 victory with scores of 23-25, 21-25, 25-22, 25-22 and 15-6 at the St. Denis Centre Feb. 6.
With the pair of wins, Windsor continues to remain in third place in the OUA west division with a 10-5 with four road matches to go in the regular season. The Lancers were led by Shannon Dean, who was named OUA female athlete of the week after she saved her best for last as she stole the show in the final home games of her career at Windsor.
Lancers head coach Lucas Hodgson said coming back from a two-set deficit against a team still in the playoff picture and that plays such good defense was good experience as the team looks for a strong finish and a date with Western in the opening round of the playoffs. After dropping the first two sets Hodgson admitted it was Dean who took charge of the huddle and told her teammates what was going to happen from that point on.
“She looked at her teammates and told them they were not losing this game,” Hodgson said. “She said we are a better team than this and lets show them right now – and that’s what they did. We just came out and played better, they did a lot of things well but just got tired at the end.”
Dean, a fourth-year developmental psychology student-athlete, had a game high 16 kills, six digs and two aces in the Lancers win over the visiting Lakers and followed with an incredible 28 kills, six digs and three blocks to undoubtedly willed her team back from their two-set deficit against York.
Prior to the game the Lancers honored graduating seniors Dean, Durand and Stirling for their contribution to the program with a plaque and bouquet and while fighting back tears, Dean said she and the team fought hard to play every last point in the St. Denis Centre, which has been home the past four years.
“To play for this program means a lot, this is a really tight community and I couldn’t see myself going anywhere else,” Dean said. “So I’m really glad I got to play here and just be part of the Lancer family. I will really miss it.”
All sets played were extremely close as the Lions claimed the first two sets 25-23 and 25-21 before Dean lit the fire under the Lancers who then rallied and won the remaining three sets 25-22, 25-22, 15-6 to come back to defeat the Lions 3-2. In complimentary roles to Dean’s explosion, Melissa Smyth and Emily McClosky hit 10 kills each while Stirling finished with 51 assists.
For the Lions Celeste Witzell led the team with 18.5 points from 14 kills, two service aces, and two blocks while Lions setter Kristen Dillon grabbed 47 assists.
“York puts the pressure right back on you, they don’t have some of the offensive weapons other team have but they just keep putting the ball back over the net,” Hodgson said. “They make you make mistakes and they make you earn points and our girls had to fight through a lot of stuff. It was frustrating at times but we finally outlasted them in the fifth.”
Windsor will now be on the road for the rest of the season due to their presumed third place finish in the OUA west and travel to Thunder Bay for a pair of games against the Lakehead Thunderwolves with four important points on the line Feb. 13 and 14.