High hopes and high spandex shorts

By Jo Wynn

What do you do when you’ve climbed to the top of Mount Everest? What do you do when you’ve won the coveted Olympic gold medal? What do you do when you’ve won the Canadian Interuniversity Sport Championships for women’s volleyball? According to Dinos women’s volleyball Head Coach Kevin Boyles, the goal is “to win it all again.”

This year’s team of volleysaur women has their work cut out for them. Last year the team dominated as the national champs. Not only is the bulk of the team returning to defend their title, but Boyles has recruited four rookies that have potential written all over them.

The new additions are looking to fill the gap left by Amanda Moppet who graduated last year with five years of volleyball leadership under her spandex. Boyles commented that losing Moppet hurts, but he also sees it as an opportunity for others to step up.

“She was a big part of the character of the team. There are big shoes to fill.”

Who is Boyles looking to step up? Joanna Niemczewska is the obvious candidate. After winning the CIS Female Athlete of the Year, University of Calgary Female Athlete of the Year, CIS Female Volleyball Player of the Year, as well as making the national all-star team last year, Niemczewska is looking to repeat the success this time around.

“She has much more confidence, much more poise now in her playing,” Boyles commented.

The new fleet of rookies are also looking to get in on the action.

First up is Julie Young from Red Deer, Alberta. The 18 year old, 61 left side player had an impressive high school career and has competed on Team Alberta as well as on the youth national team.

Also arriving fresh out of high school is the Taber, Alberta middle/power Lauren Perry. She has also had a thorough high school history, along with four years on the Alberta Provincial Team.

Christina Ross is coming in as an outside hitter from Calgary with two years Alberta Provincial Team experience.

Filling the fourth rookie spot is left side Holly Harper from Lumsden, Saskatchewan. She was an All-Star and silver medallist at the 2004 Canadian Juvenile National Championships. She and the rest of the rookies are going to be a threat to other teams looking to take the Dino’s National banner.

When asked about the new recruits, Niemczewska had only good things to say: “They’re awesome, it seriously blows my mind that they’re just out of high school.” Niemczewska not only considers them an asset on the court, but insists that they’re already so much a part of the social aspect of the team as well, stating that it’s “such a sigh of relief that we’re covered in all aspects with the rookies.”

With such high prospects for the upcoming season, one has to look at the teams that could prevent another National banner from appearing on our wall. In the Canada West division the big threats are the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds and the University of Alberta Pandas. UBC is returning almost the whole team with a new, strong setter. U of A returns almost everyone as well, and there is sure to be a continuation of the rivalry between our schools. On the east coast, Quebec’s University of Sherbrooke has picked up some national players and is looking to bring the title home to the East.

What are a veteran’s thoughts on the upcoming season? According to Niemczewska, the Dinos are “going to be better than last year, but all the other Canada West teams have improved as well. I’m confident, but I’m going to take it day by day.”

So what does the casual Dinos fan have to look forward to this year? A great season, and a great group of women with arguably one of the best team dynamics around. These girls are amazing on and off court. It’s well worth your effort on Friday and Saturday nights to storm the Jack Simpson and watch the domination begin. If all goes well you can buy them a drink at the Den afterwards!

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