Volleyball women get consolation prize

By Barb Wright

With two Dinos in the starting lineup, Canada’s women’s volleyball team hoped to beat out the host team at Daegu, South Korea on Sun., Aug. 24 for a spot in the medal rounds at the 2003 Universide, but the women just couldn’t stay out in front.

Trailing South Korea for all of the first set, Canada had some trouble at the net against their low-hitting opponents.

"It took part of the first set to adjust to the level of their hitting," says fifth year Kinesiology student Tracy Keats of the smaller South Korean attackers. "Once I learned not to jump as high as usual, I was more effective on the net."

Despite an opportunity opened by a kill (courtesy of Calgary’s Amanda Moppett) and shadowed by a solid combined block by Keats and University of Manitoba’s Amanda Penner, Canada couldn’t catch the home team and was down by one in the match, 20-25.

Canada came on strong in the second set, finding the weaknesses in Korea’s defenses around the midpoint. Moppett chalked up five kills, giving Korea a taste of the aggressive style Dinos fans are familiar with. Canada took the match on an ace from Penner making it 25-15.

The lead in the third set belonged to Canada with a couple of clean plays including a huge middle stuff by Keats, but they let it slip at 11 when they couldn’t recover from three consecutive attacking errors. Moppett brought the team back out front at 22-21 with a huge powerside kill, which she followed with a stuff on a strong attack, but the team fell behind again on an unforced net violation and a mishandled reception that floated into the opponents’ territory. After a few Canadian misfires and a good scramble by Korea, the hosts closed the set at 24-26, leading the match 2-1.

Canada dominated the beginning of set 4, pulling an 11-6 lead before Korea developed an offense. Korea tied it at 12’s with a well placed attack from the middle and a misfire by Keats, who didn’t get her attack in play. Although Canada took the lead again at 18-15, they couldn’t take it farther than that, with three attacks falling out of play. Korea scrambled back into the lead, where they stayed for the rest of the set, finishing at 22-25, calling the match at 1-3 for the hosts.

"The team had lots of discipline and control in the second set," said head coach Norman Bouchard, reflecting on the game that took away chances of a medal. "I think tonight we lost that control at the end of the third and fourth sets. What we saw was some players losing their focus a bit."

Moppett concurred with her coach.

"We weren’t as consistent as we should have been," she said. "If we had been steady we could have walked away with a victory, which would have been huge."

Keats also expressed her disappointment at the outcome of the game.

"It’s so frustrating," she said. "It’s definitely a team we could have beat. We had a lot of opportunities but we just didn’t seize them."

With a much deserved rest on Monday, Canada’s next match is against Hong Kong on August 27 to determine their seed in the consolation finals.

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