Amid controversy over a possible name change, the Wesmen volleyball teams prepare for a new season.
Last year, the women’s team successfully secured a spot in the Canada West Final Four after defeating the University of Manitoba Bisons in three sets. The women finished the season with the loss of the bronze medal match to Trinity Western at the University of British Columbia.
“We had the right combination of athleticism, experience and drive,” women’s head Diane Scott said. “Not to sound cheesy, but it was really a perfect storm – the right combination at the right time.”
The men’s team found that a 10-13 season record wasn’t enough to secure a spot in the playoffs.
As a new season of volleyball begins, both Wesmen teams have come out on top in pre-season invitational tournaments.
Last month, the women’s team placed third in the Regina Invitational and second in the 2012 Lea Marc Volleyball challenge.
Scott attributed these early triumphs to her team’s leadership.
“The athletes that were part of the success last year are able to lead the team this year,” she said.
Despite the loss of star fifth-years Lauren Sears and Tesca Andrew-Wasylik, Scott is happy with the team’s new talent.
“Certainly we’re younger,” she said. “We just need time to redefine ourselves as a team. We’re getting better every day.”
The men’s team placed first in both the Regina Invitational and the Queen’s Invitational in October, the latter of which saw the team impressively claiming victory in all but one set.
“We’re a group that lives and breathes volleyball,” said men’s third year left side Ty Loewen. “We’ve all trained hard over the summer.”
Men’s fourth-year left side Matt Stubler recognizes the value in the pre-season tournaments for new players.
“I think it’s best for the younger guys to get a firsthand experience of what CIS (Canadian Interuniversity Sport) is about. It’s a lot different from high school,” said Stubler.
The new additions to the team appear to make the possibility of placing in this year’s playoffs very real.
“We’ve got a lot of solid recruits coming in this year,” said Stubler.
While the recent victories have boosted team morale, it’s important to maintain a level head.
With their focus now on regular season games, the Wesmen volleyball teams are cautious not to get too comfortable before the season begins.
“Right now, we’re pretty confident, but we have to be realistic,” said men’s third year middle Brendan Black.
“The teams that we were facing weren’t at the level we’re used to playing at.”
Recognizing this, Scott views the pre-season as indicators of where the team excels and where work needs to be done.
“Pre-season is just a measuring stick,” said Scott. “It shows us, potentially, where we can get to.”
Published in Volume 67, Number 8 of The Uniter (October 24, 2012)