The University of Regina Cougars women’s volleyball team is back on the court.
The Cougars were fortunate to not graduate any players from the 2010-11 roster. With all but four members of the team having played together for at least a year, chemistry shouldn’t be a problem for this year’s squad. The overwhelming amount of veterans, mixed in with some highly capable rookies, could be recipe for a championship team.
Regina finished with a 5-7 record in preseason action. Even though these statistics don’t matter when all is said and done, Cougars head coach Melanie Sanford was happy with how the team was progressing during their first outings on the court.
“We were up and down,” she said. “We did some good things at times and we need to continue on that path.”
With so many veteran players to turn to in order to carry the team to victory, Stanford believes that their presence on the court gives the team an immediate advantage.
“In this league it is very important to have experience on the court,” she said. “We are fortunate that we have the leadership of four fifth-year student athletes – Megan Onstad, Solveig Nilson, Tiffany Herman and Rebecca Rink – and two fourth-year student athletes – Kaitlyn Hughes and Ceanna Lindquist.”
Despite these leaders, one key player has been noticeably missing for the Cougars in their first few outings this season. Michelle Sweeting, a standout rookie for Regina last year, hurt her ankle during the summer and has not seen much game action at all this season.
Although the injury to Sweeting made most fans cringe, she has been participating in full practices with the team since the end of October and everyone is hopeful that she will be able to return to competition sooner rather than later.
In the mean time, rookie Trisha Dobson has filled in quite nicely. Standing at 6-foot-5, it’s tough to get anything past her. Dobson is one of around four fresh faces that were added to the Cougars roster in the off-season, and she is not the only one that could make an immediate impact.
“Currently, Dobson is starting and doing a good job,” said Sanford, who is in her ninth season with the team. “Other first-year student athletes (Meagan Lane, Alyssa Shivak and Tori Glynn), have seen the court and done a good job. They are a great group.”
After barely squeaking into the playoffs in 2010, the women’s volleyball team experienced back-to-back losses at the hands of the Trinity Western Spartans in a Canada West best-of-three quarterfinals match up. The Cougars look at this year as an opportunity to better last year’s finish. In fact, Stanford believes that goals for this year’s squad are simple.
“Improve our game every day, playoffs and beyond,” she said.
In a rare Thursday night match-up, the Cougars went to war against the Saskatchewan Huskies in regular-season action at the Centre for Kinesiology Health and Sport.
The Cougars earned their first W of the season on Nov. 3 in a four-set victory against the provincial rivals. The Cougars were dominant against the Huskies for the majority of Thursday’s contest, finishing with set scores of 25-18, 25-21, 18-25, 25-16. After the Cougars win, the two teams sat dead even at 17-17 in head-to-head competition dating back to 1995. However, the Cougars were riding a nine-game winning streak against the Huskies, something they would improve to 10 games on Nov. 5 after registering a victory over the Huskies in just three sets (25-15, 25-21, 25-22).
The Cougars’ next action is scheduled for Nov. 11-12, when the Thompson Rivers WolfPack are in town. Game time is 6:15 p.m. on Friday and 8 p.m. on Saturday.