Setting up for success

By Mike Attersall

Ranked fourth in the country and going for their third consecutive Canada West title, these lady Dinos have a lot to live up to.

So what is it going to take in order for Calgary to reach the same level of success (second in the nation) seen in years past? It would be tough to say all it will take is the same regiment and strategy as last season, seeing that the Dinos have lost familiar faces and have a 12-6 record that is all too unfamiliar, due in part to little glitches with this year’s squad.

“We give up too many points in a row and runs it seems,” stated veteran setter Heather Wearmouth, when asked about some of the Dinos’ weaknesses. It may very well be due to a loss in game mentality, something libero Tara Deeks was willing to point out.

“At times we’re not mentally prepared and we start getting ahead of ourselves, thinking of nationals and not the task at hand,” she said.

One thing the Dinos will have to do is to start finishing their games off. They have all too often let teams come back from a deficit, finding themselves struggling in the end.

“We tend to stay at the same level in a game, while other teams play better and start to come back,” stated right-side Joanna Niemczewska. “We should be able to finish games in three sets”

Even with these glitches, the Dinos have been able to overcome adversity in many ways resulting in success.

“Our team is offensively aggressive, big, athletic and intense,” said rookie Janelle Findlay.

“We have a deep team, and can stick anyone in the game and still be solid. And when it comes to comparing players skill wise head-to-head, we are stronger than anyone” continued Niemczewska. Co-Captain Amanda Moppett seems to agree.

“Our team is the most skilled in the West,” she said with confidence.

But it won’t just be the skill that will take this team far, it will also be the leadership provided by key players.

“It’s great–all but one of our starters are veterans who know teams and players,” stated rookie Reid Brodie, who may have been thinking of two of the best middles in Canada, Jill Friend and Tracy Keats.

“I want to make sure my experience helps the younger girls, and that I can be a rock for the team to rally around,” commented Friend.

“Keeping our emotions high and under control will be important–we can’t get to nervous, we will have to channel our excitement and I think that’s where my experience comes in,” stated Co-Captain Tracy Keats, who is an intimidating presence on the court, much like fellow national team member Friend.

Even with depth and experience, the team was hurt by their lack of consistancy, whether in serving, passing, or hitting.

“We need to worry about our side of the court, and not what the other team is doing,” stated Wearmouth.

It will be up to each player to work on consistency in her own game in order to reach a successful level of play as a team. A level of play that can take this team far.

“I need to be completely unselfish and work hard enough to stay on the floor, support my team and play my game,” stated setter Natalie Schwartz. “I know I can bring the intensity; I just have to learn not to hold it back.”

“I must believe that what I do can change the outcome of the game,” said Moppett who has been the Dinos’ X-factor this season. Speaking of factors, the team has aquired the man-factor in Niemczewska.

“I have to be a man when it comes to the hitting, pull out the Maury, and be strong on the offence,” commented Niemczewska.

With one week of rest and only a few days left before playoffs, the team will have to focus and put aside all distractions.

“We need a solid week of practice–at least three out of four days. Our training needs to be full out,” stated Head Coach Kevin Boyles. “With playoffs at home, we have a huge advantage. Other teams really don’t like playing here.”

The Dinos make their first playoff stand at home on Feb. 7-8 at 7 p.m. in the Jack Simpson gymnasium. The first round of playoffs is a scheduled best of three games with the third game set for Feb. 9 at 2 p.m. if necessary.