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Saving their season

Cougars women’s volleyball team earns a playoff berth just in time

Autumn McDowell
Sports Writer

The University of Regina Cougars women’s volleyball team was on the brink of elimination this weekend as they took on the Saskatchewan Huskies at the Centre for Kinesiology Health and Sport.

Coming into the weekend, the Cougars found themselves in a battle with the Winnipeg Wesmen for the seventh and final playoff spot in Canada West. A pair of wins from the Cougars would almost guarantee them postseason berth, but it wouldn’t come easy.

As it turned out, the Cougars would only need one victory as the Brandon Bobcats swept the Wesmen in Winnipeg. Still, Regina won both games against the Huskies.

“I think the team is really happy that they got two wins out of the weekend,” offered Cougars head coach Melanie Sanford.

On Friday, the Cougars came out strong and looked dominant. The team strolled to a 25-15 opening-set victory, but the Huskies fought back hard to take the second set by a score of 25-23.  However, it was all Cougars from there as they took the third set by a humiliating 25-10 score, and finally won the fourth by a 25-19 count.

The Cougars got help from the entire team, but it was Tiffany Herman that was able to take her game to another level under the looming pressure of missing the playoffs. Herman finished off the night with a total of 53 assists, the second most by a Cougar in a four-set match. The current record is also held by Herman at 55.

With Brandon beating Winnipeg that night, just one more win would seal the deal for the Cougars and land them a spot in the postseason.

Although mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, the Huskies (2-16) had no intentions of handing victories, let alone a place in the playoffs, to the Cougars.

Night two was a slightly closer battle on the scoreboard, but the Cougars were able to come together to secure three straight set victories by scores of 25-22, 25-20 and 25-18. Some pretty passing by Kaitlyn Hughes, combined with 12 kills by Meagan Onstad as well as 38 assists by Herman, helped the team to secure the final playoff position.

“I thought that the team was very focused,” said Sanford of her team’s effort this weekend. “I felt we had a game plan that the team executed throughout the weekend. We did really well and had good energy.”

With first place in the conference getting a bye, the Cougars will now head to Vancouver in order to take on the Trinity Western University Spartans in a best-of-three quarterfinal on Feb. 17-18-19. Trinity Western currently boasts a 15-3 record, while the Cougars sit at 8-10.

Although there is no denying that the road to the CIS Championships will be a tough one for the Cougars to travel along, there is no telling what can happen during playoff time.

“Anything can happen,” stated Sanford. “I mean, if you look at the league so far, you have seen everyone beating everyone. We will go in, be well prepared, and see what happens.”

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