Having fallen to the University of Alberta Pandas twice already in the preseason, the Dinos women's volleyball team had something to prove Oct. 8-10 at the University of Saskatchewan's tournament. Unfortunately for our ladies, the Pandas once again showed that friendly and fuzzy rule the court for the time being.
The Dinos started out with a close call Fri., Oct. 8 against the University of Manitoba Bisons. After a tight 27-25 loss in the first game, our ladies replied with two quick wins. The Bisons made one last feeble attempt at survival, winning the fourth game 25-20, but the Dinos came out strong in the fifth with a 15-9 Bison thumping.
With one triumph under their Spandex, the girls played a confident second game Friday afternoon. They met the U of S Huskies and shut them down with three quick wins, leaving the home crowd absolutely and utterly devastated and speechless.
For the two victories obtained Friday, the Dinos were granted a bye to the semi-final round Sat., Oct. 9. In a clash with the University of Regina Cougars, the Dinos again held their breath, waiting until the fifth game to send the Cougars home. Although both losing games were only two point spreads, that could be enough to lose a match.
That being said, there was no uncertainty about the games in the final match Sun., Oct. 10. Being the first tournament with an elimination round and thus, a winner, the Dinos can at least say they made the finals and put their backs into it. In this case, that was not enough; the Pandas handily defeated the Dinos in four games. After narrowly losing the first game 22-25, the Dinos pulled up their socks and took the second game 25-15. After this solitary win the momentum changed directions; the U of A had few troubles defeating the Dinos in the following two games. Despite striking out three times to the Pandas, the girls aren't discouraged and feel that preseason is a time for experimentation.
"Everyone this year has had an opportunity to play and show what skills they have," Reid Brodie explained.
Head Coach Kevin Boyles believes that with a full healthy line-up, more confidence and the presence on the court they had last year, the Dinos should be able to take the Pandas down.
"At times we were excellent, at times we were inconsistent," he clarified. "The U of A is always going to be difficult. They returned almost their whole line-up from last season."
With the preseason almost done, the Dinos ladies are undefeated with the exception of their three meetings with the U of A. When asked about how she would react to a Panda caged in a zoo, Brodie let out an evil laugh as she surely visualized the U of A team locked in a small room with some bamboo. But she eventually let that warm, fuzzy bear get the best of her cold competitive side, admitting she would "draw pity on it."
Thus, the mystery of defeating the Pandas volleyball squad is solved; screw pity, stick with the evil laugh.
The regular season will begin with a pair of away games against the Simon Fraser University Clan Oct. 22-23. Rookie Julie Young knows the team has only one obstacle this year that could prevent the squad from repeating last year's national title win. As the "best" team in the nation; "Everyone wants to beat us."