The combination of power and passion

By Kris Kotarski

The ball pounds the floor just inches inside the line. There was no effort to dig it up, the defenders just watched it fall. The visitors look down in disappointment and Alisa Marriott is still waving her hand. In one motion she’s saying goodbye to the ball and to the visiting team.

She’ll say goodbye herself after this season too. Marriott is finishing her fifth year of eligibility and she’ll leave behind a powerful team, some great friends and a tradition of awesome taunting.

"That’s going to be the legacy that I leave behind," she laughs. "I’m always encouraging it. I think the moves say more than any words could say. The muscle flexing, the wave goodbye…"

Marriott’s not your average volleyball player. Your average volleyball player stands taller than five foot nine. Marriott’s frame is deceptively powerful. Her game is powerful too-she’s a fan favourite for all the right reasons.

"I love the big crowds. I always liked it, ever since high school."

Her blistering hits and hard dives always earn a chorus of cheers in the Jack Simpson Gymnasium. But the cheers will fall silent in three more weekends.

"It’s kind of hard to believe that it’s done," she reflects. "Personally, I really changed a lot over the last couple of years. It’s almost getting to that point for me where my body’s falling apart and I’m getting interested in other things. It’s good and bad."

Marriott plans to take a year off from school and travel the world. She’s a few courses away from an Arts Degree, and plans to continue her volleyball career on the beach. Along with her Dinos teammate Amanda Moppett, the pair ranks among Canada’s best.

Last season was Marriott’s finest. She was named the best women’s volleyball player in the country by Canadian Interuniversity Sport and she led a star-studded Dinos lineup to the national championship tournament in Winnipeg.

"It was great. I knew I had it in me to be a good player but I was always playing right side, a position that I hated," she says. "Last year I had the opportunity to play power. [Head Coach] Kevin [Boyles] made my day one day when he had me swing power."

Even with Marriott at her natural position, the highly touted Dinos fell in the quarter-finals to the underdog University of Toronto in the biggest upset of the tourney. Calgary was shocked and as the team prepares for another run at the Holy Grail this Dino hopes overconfidence doesn’t bite this season.

"Volleyball is an individual and a team sport. You have to be worried about yourself but of course winning a national championship is our major goal and that’s what we all work for," she says. "I think we’re gonna walk into it a lot more prepared. Last year we really were expecting to win, but we’ve come a long way. Now we know what could happen."

In three more weekends, we’ll see if Marriott gets her last chance to smile and wave goodbye.


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