Three more matches

By Lawrence Bailey

It’s not quite what they wanted, but the Dinos will take their Canada West silver medal with an eye on the ultimate prize.

“With all that went on up there, from bad calls to playing in U of A’s gym to the injury to Jo, to play as well as we did is definitely a real positive,” said Dinos women’s volleyball Head Coach Kevin Boyles. “I think we are more confident and more driven because of it.”

Despite coming up short against the University of Alberta Pandas in the Sat., Feb. 28 Canada West final, the volleysaurs made a statement in their arch-rival’s home gym with their manhandling of the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds Fri., Feb. 27.

“Our first round against UBC was awesome,” beamed captain Amanda Moppett of the 3-0 (25-14, 25-18, 25-23) win. “We were dominant, they couldn’t touch us. We were unstoppable, I think we hit our peak potential that match.”

Saturday’s 3-2 (26-24, 25-21, 21-25, 22-25, 15-12) loss to the Pandas was not the desired outcome, but the Dinos feel they proved themselves nonetheless.

After blowing a 24-20 lead in the first game and struggling through the second, the Dinos were playing well, up 13-12 in the third, when Canada West Women’s Volleyball Player of the Year Joanna Niemczewska went down with a knee injury. Despite losing one of their brightest stars, the Dinos battled hard, forcing a fifth game before coming up three points short of the title.

“The main players to step up were Amanda Moppett and Jill Friend,” said Boyles, quickly adding Niemczewska’s injury was minor. “It’s the older players on this team who will bring a great attitude to nationals. They will refuse to lose and do whatever it takes.”

First-year right side Christie James couldn’t agree more.

“Growing up in Calgary, I watched Jill and Moppett–they were my childhood heroes,” she beamed. “This weekend, playing in the front row between them in a Canada West final was huge for me. They have so much maturity, experience and confidence; you can’t help but look up to them.”

James was one of many Dinos who took their play to the next level when it mattered, a trait Boyles attributes to the strong passion and phenomenal leadership his pair of fifth-year players (Moppett and Friend) provide.

“We’ve gone to nationals the last few years, had the matchups we wanted and still came out losers,” explained Boyles. “Fortunately we still have players on this team who were there when it happened–and they haven’t forgotten it.”

Heading to Saskatoon, Saskatche- wan Mar. 4-6 for the Canadian Interuniversity Sport Women’s Volleyball Championship, the Dinos find themselves ousted from top spot in the nation for the first time all season. The Dinos are the #2 seed, and have drawn the Universite de Montreal Carabins as their first round opponent.

The top spot? It’s occupied by those dastardly Pandas.

“We can demolish them and we should be demolishing them,” said Moppett when asked about the possibility of facing the Dinos’ northern rivals once again. “This is our year, it has to be our year, and we’re going to go all out until we achieve it.”