The University of Saskatchewan Huskies dealt a serious blow to the Dinos women’s volleyball team’s playoff hopes, but all is not lost… yet.
"From a playoff standpoint, we let them off the hook," said coach Kevin Boyles. "It was a bit of a missed opportunity."
The Dinos won 3-1 on Friday, but the Huskies reversed the score on Saturday.
"It was a pretty good weekend," said Boyles. "Saskatchewan came in ranked sixth in the country. For us to be beating a top-10 team on Friday is great."
The officiating on Saturday may have cost the Dinos the match. With the fourth game on the line, the umpire made a pair of controversial calls that the crowd clearly didn’t like.
"It’s unfortunate, but that’s part of the game," shrugged Boyles. "It was good, though, because the team didn’t dwell on it. They let me complain to the referee. When it’s 22-21 for them and you get a bad line call, they go up 23-21 when it could have been 22-22. It’s a very different game with only two points left."
Boyles noted that he would rather not have to worry about calls in close games.
"If you feel you’re the better team, you should be ahead at 20 by four or five, and bad calls won’t hurt badly."
On Friday, rookie sensation Amanda Moppett led the Dinos with 18 kills, followed closely by Janet Bang’s 17. Defensively, Moppett had 17 digs, Alisa Marriott had 16, and setter Amanda Stepenko contributed 15. On Saturday, the Dinos were led by Bang’s 16 kills, while Moppett had 15. Libero Joanna Eggerer had 15 digs and Moppett added 12.
"Janet really stepped up this weekend," said Boyles. "She had been inconsistent, and that’s what we need from her."
Stepenko’s serving was remarkable on the weekend. She totaled five service aces on Friday and added two on Saturday.
"Friday was her best match of the year," said Boyles.
"We all played well together," said Stepenko, modestly. "It was lots of fun, which is why we play the game anyway."
Stepenko, one of three rookies in the Dinos’ starting lineup, explained why her serving has been so much better lately.
"I took some extra time in practice and served two buckets of balls–50 balls. It’s one thing I can control myself, one way I can help out the team."
To make the playoffs, the Dinos not only need to be successful in their next four matches–they also need the Huskies to lose.
"[Last weekend] put us in a position where we need help," said Boyles. "If we had taken care of Saskatchewan, it wouldn’t matter."
The Dinos will travel to the University of British Columbia this weekend to meet the fifth-ranked Thunderbirds.
"UBC will be a tough weekend for us," conceded Boyles.
Stepenko is of the belief that the rookie-laden Dinos should be able to win.
"UBC isn’t that strong," said Stepenko. "When we first played them, we took them to five games, and we should have won. We’re really strong for a first-year team. If we play like we did on Friday, then we can take one away from UBC and the playoffs can be ours."