I thought corporal punishment had been outlawed in Canada. You can imagine my surprise, then, when the University of Calgary hosted a public beating at the Jack Simpson Gymnasium Nov. 14-15.
The Dinos women's volleyball team, ranked atop the nation all year, hadn't truly dominated an opponent thus far--until the Simon Fraser University Clan rolled into town, that is.
The Dinos swept the Clan 3-0 (25-15, 25-10, 25-21) Friday night, then pummeled them once more for good measure Saturday, taking the second match 3-1 (25-21, 23-25, 25-11, 25-18).
"We got back to the idea of having a bit of pride," explained Head Coach Kevin Boyles. "It's one thing to win, it's another to have presence when you step onto the floor."
Heading into the weekend, the matter of pride and attitude were oft bandied about team meetings and the practice court. After a performance like this however, it is seen more as a developing strength than a weakness needing to be addressed.
"That's something that defines the Dinos, it's something we're finally starting to realize," setter Natalie Schwartz said of the cocky swagger and confident attitude displayed against the Clan. "We still have so far to go though, just to develop our character and do what we did Friday night every single night."
While nicknames like "Sweet Pea" may not strike fear into the hearts of opponents, this talented squad allows their actions to speak louder than their words. They may not talk much trash on the court, but when you six-pack your opponent every other kill, what's really left to say?
Go-to players Joanna Niemczewska and Amanda Moppett had outstanding weekends, feasting on a weaker SFU squad, however, the play of one player in particular stood out.
"Last weekend wasn't my best, so it meant a lot to come out, play strong at home and show SFU what we're all about," smiled middle Sarah Onofrychuk, whose dominant net play and emphatic kills set a real tone for both matches. "We finally started to show some attitude. I don't think we knew how before, but now we're starting to show teams why we're number one."
Finding their 'A' game and bringing it all weekend was key for the Dinos as they hit the road for the next couple weeks, starting with a difficult pair of games in Vancouver against the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds, ranked fourth nationally to the Dinos' first.
Long time Dinos Assistant Coach Scott Handley was awarded Saturday's game ball and received a resounding ovation from the Jack faithful, after coaching in his last Dinos home game. Handley, a favourite of the players (and the media), is off to Eastern Canada for business reasons, but his departure may not be final.
After receiving the ball, he quipped to Boyles that "I will give the ball back when I come back to the Dinos."
We would only be so lucky. Best of luck Scott.