By Kristy Koehler, March 22 2019 —
The University of Calgary Dinos women’s volleyball team had a fantastic year. Though they came up short in the finals, the team put together a 30–9 season that included 17 home-court wins and 19 wins against Canada West conference opponents.
The team’s regular-season record got them into the Canada West playoffs, where their only loss came at the hands of the Trinity Western Spartans. The Dinos’ 4–1 playoff record qualified them for the U Sports national championships, held in Edmonton on March 15 and 16.
Despite a fantastic regular season, the post-season was plagued by challenges. The Dinos were forced to play the Canada West Championship match at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology due to renovations in the Jack Simpson Gym. The roof of SAIT’s Campus Centre Gymnasium is much lower than the roof in their home court and the team had difficulty adjusting to the change. A 3–0 loss to the Spartans rendered the Dinos unable to defend last year’s Canada West Championship title.
“It was a perfect storm,” said head coach Natalie Gurnsey. “It’s always hard when you experience that much adversity at the end of the season. To really focus on our season as a whole is what we’re trying to do, but I think it will really take some time to be able to get that perspective.”
The U of C lost to the Ryerson Rams in the national quarterfinal but put up an amazing fight, considering two of their best players were out due to injury. The Dinos ran shorthanded without Kate Pexman and Hannah Tansichuk, two first-team All-Canadians and veteran players. The Rams took early leads in all three sets and held the Dinos winless.
The loss to the Rams sent the Dinos to the consolation semifinal against the University of Toronto Varsity Blues, where the team put up a much better showing as they adjusted to being without two of their stars. The Varsity Blues won the matchup 3–1 with set scores of 25–19, 18–25, 25–21 and 25–16.
Calgary will host the 2020 U Sports championship in the Jack Simpson Gym next year. The Dinos are in a good position — 16 of 17 roster members will return to play for the team. The goal is definitely to win it all.
“As we saw this year, that’s never a guarantee,” Gurnsey said. “But we’re going to take care of what we can to make that goal possible.”