By Jo Wynn
Despite bitter prairie temperatures below 50 degrees and despite playing with the wrong game ball, the Dinos women’s volleyball team had another winning weekend Jan. 14-15.
The results of the season have motivated some people to ask: “Can they lose?” The Dino’s are still holding the reigns as number one in the country and remain undefeated in the regular season. With an astounding 14-0 record, the path to repeating last year’s victory as the National Champions is looking like a walk in the park.
On Friday, the Dinos opened the weekend in frozen Winnipeg against the University of Manitoba Bisons. The first set began with the Bisons in the lead, but the Dinos came back to take the set 25-20. The Bisons captured the lead again early on in the second set and kept on going to win 25-17. Our fearless Dinos didn’t brave the cold to get to the gym and lose however, taking the lead back by winning the third set 25-20. By the fourth set, the Dinos seemed determined to get back to the hotel early and crushed the Bisons with a 25-15 set to win the game 3-1.
Leading in points for the night was CIS Athlete of the Year Joanna Niemczewska with 16 kills, followed by rookie Lauren Perry who continued to rack up the points with 10 kills and digs apiece.
Saturday night began with some confusion as both teams seemed to struggle to get comfortable on the court. The Dinos came out strong, winning the first set 25-16 and forging ahead by winning the second 25-16. But the players still felt something wasn’t quite right.
“We just couldn’t get the same feel for the ball as usual,” commented Janelle Findlay. “We knew something was off, but we just couldn’t quite figure it out.”
The problem was solved in the third set when it dawned that the game ball was in fact a men’s ball. The Bisons recovered from the game ball fiasco and took the third set 25-21. Eager to finish the game and head to the bar, the Dino’s took the fourth set 25-19 to win the game 3-1 and hold their perfect season.
In Saturday’s game, rookie Holly Harper chalked up nine kills and seven digs, while veterans Reid Brodie and Niemczewska dominated with 16 and 20 kills respectively. Libero Neda Boroumand also shone with 14 digs.
With such success this season, one must wonder if the team is beatable. When asked, Head Coach Kevin Boyles grinned knowingly.
“Let’s hope not.”
But Boyles is aware his team isn’t perfect.
“[This year’s Dinos are] the best team I’ve coached here yet,” he exclaimed.
Though the Dinos have defeated the University of Alberta Pandas both games this season, they still remain a threat for the title. Also appearing on the National Champion contender list is the University of Sherbrooke.
“They’ve got a lot of National Team girls that have cycled in,” commented Boyles, “but they’re not out of our league.”
Who is really? With solid team dynamics and individual stars, Boyles is confident that they can go all the way again. Boyles also knows there is some room for improvement and the team is working on its passing in the back court.
“We have such a good setter, if we can get her the ball, she’s able to isolate the hitters, and our hitters get us those points.”
The Dinos come back home to the Jack Simpson Gymnasium Jan. 21-22 against the University of Saskatchewan Huskies. Games start at 8 p.m.