Familiarity breeds comfort

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Meagan Onstad has enjoyed a long involvement in Cougars volleyball

Jonathan Hamelin
Sports Editor

Meagan Onstad is right at home on the volleyball court.

This high comfort level comes from having spent a lot of time involved in the sport. The University of Regina Cougars women’s volleyball outside hitter’s introduction to volleyball came in Grade 7 in her hometown of Weyburn. Onstad, who is also the Cougars’ co-captain, has since played for the Weyburn Comprehensive Eagles, the Cougar Volleyball Club (CVC) and numerous provincial squads.

“I just love competing in sports,” said Onstad, whose Cougars earned a split (23-25, 25-15, 31-29, 25-20/15-25, 20-25, 23-25) last weekend in Canada West action at the Centre for Kinesiology, Health and Sport against the Brandon Bobcats (8-6). “I like volleyball in particular because it’s a team sport. You can’t win the game by yourself. You have to a good team to win the game, not just a star player.”

Another driving force behind Onstad’s passion for the sport is her family.

“All of my family members are involved in sports,” said the Cougars co-captain. “My dad went to Denver University on a hockey scholarship, my mom played volleyball and basketball all throughout high school and my brothers played lots of sports: hockey, baseball, basketball, and volleyball. I would say we’re definitely a sport family."

Of course, excelling at a sport is a good way to have more fun playing it.

Onstad has enjoyed a lot of team and individual success in her career so far. The fourth-year business administration student won a provincial championship with the Eagles in 2005 and was a two-time provincial championship with the CVC. Individually, Onstad was named the most valuable player of the Eagles in 2006, served as the captain for Team Saskatchewan at the 2009 Canada Summer Games in Prince Edward Island and has earned berths on Saskatchewan’s under-16 and under-18 teams.

A lot of Onstad’s success can be credited to her well-rounded play. Through 14 matches this season, Onstad leads Regina in kills (148), kills per set (2.96), points (174.0), and points per set (3.5). She is second in assists (13), assists per set (0.26), digs (139), and digs per set (2.78). Whether it means hitting the ball, blocking it, setting up a teammate, or diving for a loose ball, Onstad can do it all.

“That comes with the position she plays,” said Cougars head coach Melanie Sanford. “She touches the ball a lot. Generally you need to be well-rounded to play that position.”

Standing only 5-foot-9, Onstad has to work that much harder to excel in all of these areas.

“I have really good hops,” she said. “I’m definitely smaller, but I make up for it in jumping ability.”

Onstad’s well-rounded play expands outside of the volleyball court. She was named an academic all-Canadian in 07-08 and 09-10.

“Academics are very, very important to me,” said Onstad, who is hoping to become an accountant. “That’s a base for the rest of my life, so it’s definitely a huge factor. My grades have always been good.”

Onstad is not the only one of the team achieving on and off the court.

“We have several athletes on our team who are all-Canadians,” noted Sanford.  “I think that’s a very impressive thing – to train at the level we do an be successful academically.”

Clearly a smart team, the Cougars have calculated a way to fight back this season after some early struggles. After starting off 3-7, Regina has won three of its last four games. At 6-8, sitting seventh in the conference, the Cougars are still in playoff contention. They are starting to play like the team did last season, when Regina posted a mark of 13-7 and finished third in the conference championships and fifth in the CIS Championships.

“It feels really good to be playing better as a team,” said Onstad. “We’ve been working really hard in practice, so we’ve just got to trust that it will work out in the end. As long as we’re getting better every week that’s all we can really ask for. The team believes they can get back to nationals this season. We have the capability to do it. However, we’re taking it one game at a time.”

In Friday’s victory over Brandon, Michelle Sweeting led the Cougars with a career-high 14 kills, while Roxanne Olynyk chipped in with 12 kills and Solveig Nilson and Meagan Onstad had 11 each. Tiffany Herman had 55 assists for Regina, which was the most in a match by a Cougar in several seasons, and Rebecca Rink had 22 digs. Kaitlyn Hughes had 10 kills and 12 digs for Regina in Saturday’s loss. Herman added 32 assists and 13 digs for Regina, which got nine kills from Roxanne Olynyk, Onstad, and Sweeting.

The Cougars travel to British Columbia this weekend for a game on Friday and Saturday against the UBC Thunderbirds (11-3).

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