On Monday, Dec. 30, the University of Winnipeg (U of W) Wesmen women’s volleyball team defeated their local rivals, the University of Manitoba Bisons, to win the 53rd annual Wesmen Classic tournament.
This tournament features “an eight-team women's volleyball pool-play tournament with teams from three conferences across Canada.’’ This is the first time a Wesmen team has won the U of W-based tournament since the men’s basketball team claimed the title in 2006.
“It kind of felt like we went in as underdogs and came out as champs, which was a spectacular experience to be a part of,” Lizbeth Hildebrand, a first-year on the Wesmen women’s volleyball team, says.
In fact, the Wesmen won all three sets of the championship match: 25-17, 25-9 and 25-18.
“All our hard work in practice was a big contributor, and the support and energy of those on and off the court made a huge impact on our success,” Hildebrand, who plays right side, says.
Wesmen head coach Phil Hudson agrees.
“The positive results the team has experienced thus far are reflective of every player’s focus, work ethic, drive, determination and desire to train and play hard for each other every day they step in the gym,” he says.
“We had some decent momentum going into the Wesmen Classic with five wins in our last eight matches, so that helped us as for as our confidence goes,” Hudson says.
“As a team (during the championship match), we hit ... with very few errors, and we amassed 66 digs in just three sets, which is an amazing stat,” he says, adding that their “serving placed a lot of pressure on the (Bisons) receivers.”
“We served very aggressively, which allowed us to have other teams more out of system in their attack,” Hudson says.
“Every once in a while, you play an almost-perfect match, and this (championship game) was one of those matches.”
Hildebrand shares the excitement felt from the team.
“We were so excited, probably the most we’ve been all season,” she says, mentioning that she believes her team's biggest strength is their “unity and support in each other.”
Emma Parker, a Wesmen left-side player, was named the Wesmen Classic’s most valuable player. During the championship game, she had 14 digs and 18 kills.
When asked about strengths that led to this victory, Hudson says his “team relies on a varied offence with the ball being distributed fairly to all attackers.”
“Our strength lies in our defence and tough serving, as most teams are more physical than we are at the net, so we depend on the things we can control: serving, defence, efficient attacking and teamwork,” he says.
The Wesmen women’s volleyball team’s current regular season record is 7-8, and they are ranked seventh out of 13 in their conference. Their next home game is on Friday, Jan. 24 at 6 p.m. in the Duckworth Centre.