author: elisabeth sahlmueller | sports editor
People are really digging the volleyball team / Nathan McCarville
Cougars Volleyball player now holds Canada West all time record in digs
University of Regina Cougars volleyball libero, Taylor Ungar, made Canadian university sports history on Jan. 26 when she earned 19 digs in a stellar tight match against the MacEwan University Griffins, putting her total dig score to an astonishing 1323. She is now the University of Regina and Canada West all-time digs leader in western Canada as she broke the current record of 1317 digs, set two years ago by Jessie Niles, an Alberta libero.
This new record is a major and well deserving accomplishment for Ungar, who has been playing volleyball since she was in grade six. Since then, Ungar has gained valuable experience and grown in skill level as she played for Team Saskatchewan’s 15U, 16U and 17U sports clubs before coming to the University of Regina where she has been playing for the last five years with Cougars Volleyball team. Over the course of her years playing with Team Saskatchewan, Ungar won four provincial club championships with Saskatoon Chaos in 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 and in 2011 placed second at the Western Elite Volleyball Championships in Kelowna B.C.
During her first season with the Cougars Volleyball team, Ungar played
in all 24 Canada West matches and a total of 69/91 sets in the entire season, where she scored 58 digs. This impressive first season, allowed Ungar to be promoted to the position of libero in her second year, replacing the team’s former libero, Lindsay Braul, who had graduated the previous year. Ungar’s promotion is significant because this position is held by the most important defensive player on the team.
A libero’s main defensive manoeuvre is known as digging, which requires the player to anticipate an incoming strike and dive to hit the ball back into the air before it this the ground. While a successful mastering of this manoeuvre is difficult because it requires experience, foresight and fast reaction time, Ungar has proven during the course of her five years playing with the cougars that she is one hell of a libero, as she continuously manages to smash existing records with her digging capabilities.
In her third year playing with the Cougars, Ungar set a new record for the University of Regina with the most digs in a four-set match when she got 28 digs in a match against a team from Winnipeg. Last year, Ungar also made significant sports headlines when she set three new records: most digs in a three-set match against MacEwan University with 28 digs, most digs in a Canada West and school-single match with 38 digs and a new record of 426 digs, the most for any Canada West and school in a single season, beating out the old record of 295 digs.
Although Ungar’s latest accomplishment is a strong reflection of her strength and skill as a volleyball player, she humbly attributes her success to her teammates.
“This record is a good reflection of all the teammates I have had over my five years at the University of Regina, as these teammates have shaped me into the athlete I am today.”
It is very clear that Ungar has very strong relationships with the member of her team, as she considers them family.
“The most valuable lesson I have learned from being on this team is that the relationships I have made with team-mates are relationships I will continue for the rest of my life. You become a family with your teammates.”
Despite Taylor’s busy schedule as a student and an athlete, she took the time to answer some of my questions, including what she likes about volleyball.
“I love competing. It challenges not only you as an athlete, but also as an individual.”
Ungar also shared what her biggest challenge was in her career in the green and gold as well as her most memorable moment.
“The biggest challenge I have had to overcome would be being away from my home and family for so long, which has made me realize how much my family means to me and the sacrifices they have made in order for me to be in this position.”
“My most memorable moment would be finishing alongside some of my best friends, especially Ashlee Sandiford. We have shared some pretty fun times and have grown up with each other. It has been a very good five years in Regina and I am grateful for the people I was able to meet.”
While life can get extremely hectic as a student-athlete, Ungar stressed how important it is to take time for the important people in your life.
“I think it is important to continue to take time for friends and family. Both family and friends are very important to me and without them, I would not be in the position I am today.”
Even though first-year university students can be scared about trying out for a sports team, Ungar offered some good advice.
“I would say to be true to yourself and push yourself to get better every day in every aspect of your life.”
Playing on a university level sports team for five years has given Ungar a lot of experience, skills and good times; however, none of this was achieved without commitment, sacrifice and hours of practice. As all of Taylor Ungar’s accomplishments demonstrate, success is possible if you are willing to work hard and put in the effort. As far as her future is concerned, Taylor is planning on moving back home to Saskatoon and hopes to become a police officer.