Could this be the year?

By Lawrence Bailey

They’ve heard it all before.

Every year the Dinos women’s volleyball team are touted as potential national champs. They consistently produce Canada West All Stars, CIS All Canadians and boast a pair of CIS Rookies of the Year (Amanda Moppett in 2000 and Janelle Findlay in 2003). They have first-rate recruiting classes year in and year out and they’ve earned a berth in each of the last three national championships.

But they have yet to win it all in the Kevin Boyles era.

While being one of the best may be good enough for some, these women won’t settle for anything less than a national title. Battle-hardened veterans like Moppett have tasted the bitterness of defeat all too often. Promising youngsters like Natalie Schwartz and Joanna Niemczewska have seen the team across the court celebrate. New recruits like Neda Boroumand transferred here with one goal: a national title.

Being great isn’t good enough. Nothing short of number one will do, nothing short of triumph will satisfy this lot.

It won’t be easy.

For a team seeded in the top three at each of the last three national championships, they enter this season with a younger, yet talented roster. Led by a perennial All-Canadian and potential CIS Athlete of the Year in Moppett, this team is as immensely talented, but not as experienced, as its predecessors.

One area of promise but uncertainty is the middle position. Both Tracy Keats and Jill Friend were standouts the past few years, but Friend is sidelined due to knee surgery and Keats played her fifth year as a Dino last season.

Stepping up in place of the duo will be a pair of fourth-year players, Reid Brodie and Sarah Onofrychuk. Brodie was almost exclusively a sub last season, however she is a more than capable replacement considering she was named to the Canadian team for the 2003 Univerisiade in Daegu. Onofrychuk has also proven herself, most notably with a stellar performance at last year’s nationals at Laval.

Also departed is libero Tara Deeks, however Head Coach Kevin Boyles addressed the situation, nabbing Boroumand after an impressive two years at Red Deer College, and wooing Waterloo, Ontario native Julie Fiorelli to the U of C. Boroumand has been impressive in pre-season training thus far, assuring the Dinos faithful that another championship calibre team has been assembled.

This squad looks great on paper, they are well-coached, they have a fiercely competitive and devoted leader in Moppett and they know what it takes to get to the big dance. Their quest to get back there and take home the hardware starts Sept. 26 at the Cougar Invitational in Regina, a preseason tournament and this year’s squad’s first test as a unit.

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