Tough start ends with hope for women’s volleyball team
author: ethan williams| staff writer
Group could head to post-season for the first time in four years
The University of Regina Cougars women’s volleyball team have certainly had quite a year. The team wrapped up their regular season at 12-12 the weekend of Feb. 10 and 11, after a rough start. Before the big games went down, the Carillon caught up with head coach Melanie Sanford and Libero Taylor Ungar to discuss the season as a whole, and what they need to do in order to make it to the playoffs.
Sanford discussed the first half of the season.
“I think the first half gave us indicators that we could achieve the things we have in the second half. I would also say the determination and grit of the team to improve everyday and not lose sight of their goals has been very important.”
She went on to say that the team has committed to excelling in all aspects of school, including sports and academics.
“We keep our focus on our preparation and also not getting ahead of ourselves.”
For Ungar, she says the team has learned to tackle tough times, like the ones faced earlier in the season.
“We are learning how to win and deal with adversity as a team on the court. We are understanding every day how important it is to work as a team and that no one player on our team will be enough to meet our goals this year.”
In terms of how the team can keep up their good work in the playoffs, Ungar echoes Sanford and says it’s best not to get ahead of themselves.
“Today we are focused on Manitoba, and what we need to do in order to be successful this weekend. When focusing on playoffs, it is important to take it one point at a time and not get too ahead of ourselves by focusing on things we can control on the court.”
It’s no surprise that nerves and anxiety can overcome players when games come down to the wire, or can depend on playoff spots. Sanford says that being calm doesn’t just start at playoff time.
“We do not start being calm in the playoffs but practice being calm during all of our previous matches. This is important as it would be too late to make a big change like this. We keep our focus on our daily preparation and routines that we have developed through the season.”
Ungar feels good about what she sees on the court, as well as the dedication of everyone involved, stating how key it is to their game.
“The thing that makes me the most excited about this time in the season is seeing how all of our hard work and the dedication of our coaching staff had paid off and understanding the process that allowed us to be in the position we are in today.”
Speaking of her coaches, Ungar credits them for making this a good year.
“The work done by our coaching staff this year has been incredible. The coaches are available throughout the day for any help we need technically, as well as constantly giving feedback at practice which is very useful.”
Sanford, meanwhile, says the team has been a powerful tool in combating difficulties.
“The team naturally comes together when they overcome adversity and find success as a team in meeting challenges on the court. Volleyball by nature requires a huge team effort and it is important all team members are on board, and this comes through coping with adversity and becoming stronger as a unit.”
As for the results of their all-important games against the University of Manitoba Bisons, the Cougars were not quite able to pull off a victory in either of their matches. Losing both matches 0-3, the team is now awaiting the results of a few other Canada West games in order to see if they will make it to the post-season. The Cougars are the first team in the Canada West conference to finish their regular season, and will head off to the playoffs if any of the following events occur in next weekend’s games elsewhere:
UBC Okanagan and Manitoba
The Cougars need the BC team to beat the Bisons twice in order to clinch a post-season position.
U of Alberta and Brandon
Alberta must win twice over the Manitoba team.
Battle of Calgary
The U of C must beat Mount Royal University at least once.
If any of these circumstances come true, the Cougars have a chance to go to the Canada West post-season for the first time since 2014.