Going all the way… again

By Joanna Wynn

The Dinos women’s volleyball team has basked in glory all season, and the Canada West playoffs have been no exception. Opening the playoffs right here in the Jack Simpson Gymnasium Feb. 18-19, the Dinos loomed over the eighth ranked Trinity Western University Spartans.

Fri., Feb. 18 the Dinos came out in full force, dominating from the first point to win the set 25-17. With great defensive play by Neda Boroumand, the Dinos kept up the pace in the second with a 16-6 lead that carried through to an easy 25-12 win.

The Spartans fought for the third set and were, at one point, within three, but the Dinos clamped down the Spartan dream of success and took the set 25-19 to win the game 3-0. Great defensive play came from Boroumand and rookie Julie Young, who racked up 11 digs a piece. Leading the Dinos for the night was Joanna Niemczewska with 12 kills and six digs.

Sat., Feb. 19 saw a more aggressive front from the Spartans, but the Dinos took an early 8-3 lead in the first and didn’t let the west coaster’s catch up. The second set was more of a challenge, with the Spartans taking their first lead of the series. However, great plays by rookie star Lauren Perry pushed the Dinos to a 20-16 lead that helped to take the set 25-20.

In the third set, the Dinos took the lead and kept it. The Spartans were catching up and came within four, but the Dinos finished off with a bang and won the set 25-21 to sweep another game 3-0. Janelle Findlay led the Dinos with eight kills and five digs, followed by Niemczewska and Perry with eight and five kills respectively.

The wins pushed the Dinos into the host first-place slot at the Canada West Final-Four which, for the Dinos, began Fri., Feb. 25 with a match against the University of Winnipeg Wesmen.

Dominating from the start, our ferocious Dinos took a 16-11 lead in the first and never looked back. They polished off the set with a 25-19 win, but the Wesmen fought back in the second to a 10-4 lead. The Dinos however, never a team to fall far behind, fought back to tie it up 12-12. After intense back and forth points, our ladies finally had a six point run to win the set 25-20.

The third set again saw back and forth play between the two teams, with the ever-victorious Dinos coming out on top, winning the set 25-19 to take the match 3-0. Niemczewska led with 12 kills and four blocks, followed by Perry with seven kills and nine digs. Veteran Reid Brodie racked up nine kills during the game.

Sat., Feb. 26 the Dinos faced off against their long-term nemesis, the University of Alberta Pandas, in front of over 1,000 screaming fans in the Jack. Leading early in the first, the Dinos came out kicking and fought to keep that lead throughout the set. Just when it looked like the Pandas might have a comeback, strong plays by Niemczewska boosted the Dinos ahead to a 25-20 win.

The second set saw the Pandas putting up a fight as they took the lead and continued to battle throughout the set. The game reached a tie at 19, and after some phenomenal blocks by Robyn Horner, the Dinos forged ahead to take the set 25-20 courtesy of a kill by Findlay.

As the fans’ excitement grew at the start of the third set, the Pandas were likely having flashbacks to the bitter defeat they faced at the paws of the Dinos at last year’s nationals. Despite a Panda lead at the start of the set, the Dinos had a five point run on some key plays by Perry, and the Dinos were soon back in the lead. Points were split back and forth, but with Dinos star Niemczewska leading the pack and great digs by libero Neda Boroumand, the Dinos once again reigned victorious.

They won the set 25-21 to sweep the game 3-0. Niemczewska racked up 12 kills and three digs, while Perry added nine kills and four digs. Boroumand was named Player of the Game and contributed 11 digs.

March 3-5 the Dinos are in Saskatoon to defend their title as the CIS National Champions in Saskatoon. Though the Pandas will be there looking for payback, the Dinos fiercest competition is likely to be the University of Sherbrooke Vert et Or, who, like the Dinos, have soared through the season undefeated. One team’s streak will come to an end, but only time will tell who.

For completing their now 24-0 undefeated season in the toughest women’s volleyball division in Canada, the Dinos have been rewarded with the top-seed for the elimination style tournament.


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