A split with the University of Regina Cougars last weekend signified the end of the 1999/2000 season for the University of Calgary women’s volleyball team.
The Dinos dropped a quick 3-0 decision on Friday and came back to win 3-2 on Saturday in a pair of matches that had no bearing for the Dinos, but meant a great deal to the Cougars.
"It was actually one of the more difficult weekends we’ve had to play," said coach Kevin Boyles. "We were in a position where we had the least to gain, but Regina was in a position where everything was on the line."
Lately, the Dinos haven’t been the kind of team that backs down, so Friday’s loss can’t be attributed to the Dinos’ already having been eliminated from the playoffs.
"I think we have become a very proud team," said Boyles. "We want to beat any team we feel we are better than, but that’s a different motivation from fighting for a playoff spot, which is what Regina was doing."
Boyles described the Dinos’ matches.
"We got beat pretty soundly on Friday. I don’t think we were prepared to fight as strongly as Regina.
"I think we were suitably offended by Friday’s result to come back and play harder on Saturday. We were in control for most of the match, but obviously not completely in control to have it go five games."
Backup setter Pam Skeans had a rare start on Saturday, and played well through the entire match, but no other Dinos impressed Boyles.
"Everyone had an inconsistent weekend. Everyone had moments where they played good and every one had moments where they disappeared."
The Dinos may have missed the playoffs this year, but they are full of promise for next season. Most of the team members–including Boyles–were in their first years with the Dinos, and as they team gains experience, they can’t help but get better.
"I have to say [the season] was a positive step for the program," said Boyles. "I think we have some weaknesses we have to address in the off-season through training and recruiting, but we’ve established a core that’s capable of winning championships in a year or two."
"I think we did really well," agreed first-year starter Amanda Moppett. "We proved a lot to a lot of teams. We could have done better, but I guess we did our best."
Moppett noted that the three rookies who started this year–herself, Amanda Stepenko and Sarah Onofrychuk–will benefit from their season at the forefront of the lineup.
"We got tonnes of experience," said Moppett. "We’re already ahead of some third-year veterans who are just starting this year. This is a great group of girls. There are no veterans leaving the team and we have a lot of rookies developing friendships."
On Wednesday, Moppett was named a second-team all-star and won the Canada West conference freshman of the year award. She might have a shot at the national award as well.
In Quebec, though, players with three years of college experience are still considered rookies in university, which could hurt her chances.
"I don’t think Amanda is too concerned with the national award. She should be proud of what she’s done. To come out of high school and lead a competitive team is pretty impressive."