author: ethan williams | staff writer
Women’s volleyball split against Huskies
The women’s volleyball team had an up-and-down first weekend of January, featuring a satisfying win over their rival University of Saskatchewan opponents.
In the first game against the Huskies, the Cougars put up a fierce fight. The game ended up going to five sets, with Regina winning two of them. Their first win was in the opening set with a score of 25-19, and their second came in the fourth set, where they pounced on the Huskies with a 12-2 lead early on, leading to a 25-16 victory. The Cougars, however, could not quite clinch the match, falling 15-10 in the fifth set.
The Jan. 5 loss was the sixth consecutive loss for the team, and their fourth straight loss against the Huskies this season. Cougar’s head coach Melanie Sanford, however, said that the team was not suffering from low morale, pointing to their record before heading into the games.
“We did not feel this way going into the match at all. We take one match at a time and prepare for it and focus on that. We were confident going in that we could win.”
Sanford also noted some of the areas the team needed to improve on before going into the next night’s game.
“We worked on our serve, receive, and blocking game. We made better tactical decisions and were more consistent the second time with less unforced errors.”
It seemed that working on those trouble spots paid dividends for the Cougars. Their second game ended with a win, with this game going to the full five sets as well. The team went up two sets to zero, with the Huskies taking the third and the fourth to tie at two sets a piece. The final set was a nail biter, but it was with significant help from Cougar middle Brooklyn Reynolds that helped them get the W. Reynolds had four outstanding blocks in the fifth set, picking up a kill to end the game.
Sanford says there were other major factors that helped turn the team around and put them on the winning path.
“A belief that we could turn things around. Performances in the first half have given us confidence that we can battle. Our ability to make changes and adapt is improving. Less unforced errors helped us as well.”
When asked if the win was giving the team a sense of getting back on their feet, or making them more cautiously optimistic about the next week’s matches, Sanford made things clear.
“We go out to win and play to win. We cannot afford to be cautious or not take risks at this level. We need to approach with full confidence in our team and preparation.”
She also says that the team will be continuing to work hard and improve for their next matches.
“We continue to work on our blocking game, and tactics to prepare for each weekend. We do this through video and simulated training on the court.”
Aside from her busy schedule as coach of the team, Sanford also sat down with Leader-Post Sports Columnist Murray McCormick, and talked about her return to coaching on May 1, 2017 after a year away to take part in a year-long review of the University of Regina’s athletics program. In the article published this week, Sanford said she was glad to return to the court.
“I was pretty happy to get back to coaching. Not coaching allowed me the time to reflect on my coaching and that was a positive thing,” she said.
She also talked about her team, and credited the coaching staff for their hard work.
“The team is motivated to get better every day. We have a tremendous coaching staff that is working hard every day. It’s all those factors that have come together.”
Sanford referenced her team’s performance in Saskatoon the previous weekend as well.
“Even though we lost sets three and four [in the second game], we showed the resilience that we needed in the fifth set to do what we needed to do.”
As for how the training and practicing has paid off since the games in Saskatoon, the Cougars won both of their games this past weekend against Thompson Rivers, taking the first game three sets to two, and the second game three sets to one.