The road party’s over, welcome home

By Sean Nyilassy

In the last few years, of the University of Calgary’s Dinos teams, one stands out as the most decorated and recognised. They have won three of the last five Canada West Championships and a national title in 2004, and proven they still have what it takes with a highly coveted undefeated regular season last year.

So, what else is there to do when you’ve had your cake and eaten it too? First off, you’ve just eaten a whole triple-tiered cake, you probably need to head to the lavatory to relieve some pressure. Luckily for our ladies, the Canadian Interuniversity Sport Women’s Volleyball Championships take place right here at the U of C this season, guaranteeing them a spot.

“There’s lots of work to do,” Head Coach Kevin Boyles admitted. “I think we’re a better team this year, a deeper team. We can be stronger than ever.”

But with the huge load of regular season pressures flushed away, so to speak, the team has time to focus on this year’s ultimate goal: washing those last few crumbs off their plate by winning a national banner before a rowdy–in that supportive way–home crowd.

With last year’s three hard-working middles gone, though, who will step in to do the dirty work? The newcomers will, of course. With transfers from Red Deer College, Grant MacEwan College and even the University of California Riverside, the Dinos gain some players who know about washing up–rather than a rubber-glove-wearing, scared-to-get-their-hands-dirty bunch of rookies.

Diana Delisle joins the Dinos from RDC, while Carolyn Mac-Donald had two glorious years on the GMC Griffins. She was named an Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference First-Team All-Star both years of competition.

Willemina Stikker-Breemhaar was born to the Netherlands and moved to Lacombe, Alberta. Sweet. While Boyles attempted to recruit her out of high school, she spent two years in California where she gained some experience in the middle position.

“It will be a big change to get adjusted to the climate,” she said of her return, but came back for the volleyball, not the warm, fuzzy Canadian winters.

Boyles expects the 62 20-year old to help fill the vacated middle spot on the court.

“I look forward to being part of a really good program with great people,” she said, proudly sporting the Dinos logo.

Laura Spence and Raynell Lavertu are this year’s high school additions. Both ladies are familiar with the Dinos, being part of the Dinos women’s volleyball club. Spence will be Stikker-Breemhaar’s competition for starts in the middle.

Lavertu, on the other hand, will be in the libero spot. She has been very successful recently, having made the Canadian youth team and Alberta’s entry to the 2005 Canada Games.

“The biggest adjustment will be in time management–having school and volleyball every day,” she wisely foresees. “To focus on the volleyball part every day after school will be tough.”

She and the rest of the team have much to focus on. Both players and coaches are thrilled to have the rare opportunity to host nationals.

Although the team will inevitably see a number of victories before nationals, they really only have one thing to do.

“When your only goal is to win the last three matches of the year, you have some time to work on things,” commented Boyles on his strategy this season.

And the time should prove very useful. Stikker-Breemhaar is not eligible to begin play until November–having transferred from the States–and all-star Joanna Neimczewska will now be able to relax in the early season. She underwent a knee scope recently and could use some time to recuperate.

In any case, shortly after Christmas we should be able to see whether this team will live up to (and surpass) the last. Hopefully, the drunken home crowds will be wowed when the nation falls to the Dinosaurs.

Pre-season begins for our ladies at a tournament featuring many of Canada West’s teams at the University of Regina Sept. 23-25.


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