Volleyball teams rally after a slow start to the season

By in Sports & Health

Both Huskies volleyball teams ended their final games of 2018 on a high — both teams played and won against the University of British Columbia Okanagan Heat on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1. These wins came as an excellent capstone to a season that began roughly.

The wins came at a critical midpoint in the season and will hopefully help to propel the Huskies forward when they return to the court in January 2019. Both teams have had a slow first half of the season, but things are looking up.

Coming into the weekend, the women’s team hadn’t won a match since their two victories in the season opener against the Brandon University Bobcats. The women’s teams seemed well-matched — they both had 2-8 season scores, and the Heat had been victorious in their last ten matches against the Huskies.

Their offence put up a good fight — the Heat’s hitting average was higher than the Huskies’ in both matches — but the home team stood their ground. They won 3-2 in both five-set matches of the weekend, bringing their record to 4-8.

Mark Dodds, head coach for the women’s team, says that the group will look to build on their success in the last few games.

“We are always continuing to improve on all aspects, but our block and defence stepped up this weekend,” Dodds said, in an email to the Sheaf. “We need to continue to be better on serve, receive and attack — if we can pass and score points, we are a tough team to play against.”

The recent victories over the Heat were also significant for the men’s team as it brought up their season score to 6-6. The team went up against the Heat in four sets on Friday, which they finished off with a score of 3-1, and in three sets on Saturday, when they bested the Heat 3-0. Their successes this weekend, coupled with a victory against the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds on Nov. 24, puts them on a three-game winning streak.

U of S Huskies volleyball team jumps to block a spike at the PAC on Dec. 1.

The men’s team came into the games knowing that it was their chance to get their scores up. The Huskies are sitting in sixth place in the Canada West standings, while the Heat is last — but the Heat’s win in Friday’s third set proved they were not to be taken lightly. That day, their hitting average was higher — however, the Huskies did get their sweep victory on Saturday, sending them into the holiday break on a positive note.

After the break, the teams will face the University of Winnipeg Wesmen on Jan. 4 and 5, looking to carry their winning streaks into the second half of the season. Dodds says that the wins are good for team morale and that they will help the group do their best as the season continues.

“This will put us in a good frame of mind to train hard through December and be ready to keep rolling,” Dodds said. “We will be working hard … so that we continue to progress and be ready for a difficult Canada West second half — I absolutely think we have what it takes, but we have to show it on the court.”

Men’s head coach Nathan Bennet says the team will return from the break ready to win. Two exhibition games against Japanese team Budo, scheduled for Dec 29 and 30, will give them a chance to practice their game.

“I think we will have a great opportunity to take care of our bodies, ensure that we are in good academic standing, and to just take a break,” said Bennet in an email to the Sheaf. “With Budo University coming in … we will get some solid training as well as a couple of good matches — we will be ready for Winnipeg.”

Ana Cristina Camacho / Staff Writer

Photo: Aqsa Hussain