A set above the rest
Although the University of Regina Cougars men’s volleyball team has not always been considered a top contender, the team would like to prove the critics wrong this year.
Throughout the preseason, which consisted of three tournaments for the Cougars, including the Super 8, Cougar Invitational, and Husky Dino Cup, Regina came out with a 4-8 record. The results may not have been quite up to par, but head coach Greg Barthel is happy with the outcomes of the preseason.
“It wasn’t too bad; we performed well and we had a lot of guys play,” Barthel said. “By sure [statistics] probably not what we wanted, but as far as when our guys were playing they played pretty well. [Overall] their performance was okay.”
This year the Cougars lineup features three Australian players. Matt Hender is returning for his second year with the team, while Andre Borgeaud and Jacques Borgeaud have also been added to the roster.
As far as recruiting these players for Regina, Barthel admitted it takes effort from both himself and the players.
“It’s a little bit of both [scouting and seeking],” he said. “Last year we had Matt [Hender] come and I had found out about Matt through their national team people. It was kind of the same process with Andre and Jacques. Matt talked to them a little bit too; he had known Jacques before so that worked out well.”
Although Andre and Jacques may be rookies, Barthel believes that Jacques has the potential to make an immediate impact.
“Jacques coming in at the libero position will contribute a lot; he stabilizes our passing quite a bit, and our defence,” Barthel said.
While both Andre and Jacques are in their first year of eligibility, Barthel expects it will be the fifth-year players who take on a bigger role with the team this year.
“This year, we have four fifth-year guys: Joel Colter, Drew Smith, Jamie Wilkins, and Brody Waddell,” Barthel said. “You expect those guys to be pretty big contributors for your group.”
Aside from the veteran presence that is sure to a strong part of the court this year, Barthel said that younger guys are stepping up as well.
“We are seeing some good improvement from some of the guys that have developed,” he said. “Nathan Cherwaty has had a great preseason, and hopefully with the year he had [last year] I can expect him to contribute this year as well.”
Last year the team finished with a 2-16 record, something it looks to improve on in the 2011-12 season.
“We always want to go for the playoffs; that’s an attainable goal that you always have to try and go for,” said Barthel, who is in his fifth year with the team. “We realize that we are not the biggest team, but I think it is a definite goal that we want to try to achieve.”
With the ability to make a run for the playoffs this year, Barthel would like everyone to come and support the team, namely students.
“I think that if we had more students come out it would help a lot.” Barthel said of the low attendance. “Most of the people that come watch our games are not students; it’s either alumni guys or parents or friends of players, that type of thing or general people from the volleyball community. But there is definitely not a lot of student population out.”
There were still plenty of vacant seats in the stands when the Cougars took on the UBC Thunderbirds in their first pair of regular season games last weekend. Although the Cougars put up a good fight against the east coast team, the Cougars finished the weekend with two losses on their record after set scores of 24-26, 25-23, 25-20, 25-11 on Oct. 28 and 25-16, 25-16, 25-21 the very next night.
Students will have plenty of chances to see the men’s volleyball team in action this year; their next home game against provincial rivals the Saskatchewan Huskies is scheduled for today at 8 p.m.