Sarah Lacny knows that when an opportunity comes along you take it.
The setter for the University of Calgary Dinos women's volleyball team is flourishing in her second year with the team, as an injury sustained by Kathyrn Moncks has given Lacny the chance to prove herself as a starter.
"Sarah's doing phenomenal," said first-year Dinos head coach Jesse Knight. "I think the fun thing about Sarah is she has a lot of room to grow too and so she's shown leadership early."
Lacny has tallied 324 assists, 10 kills and 51 digs so far this season.
Thirty-three of those assists came in a losing battle against the University of Alberta Pandas last Friday (25-23, 25-23, 25-22). The Dinos managed to rebound the next day though, giving the Pandas their first loss of the season (14-25, 25-17, 18-25, 25-20, 15-13). The win gives the Dinos a 6-2 record, but more importantly confidence that they can compete with the best in the conference heading into the semester break.
"We gained a little momentum from it, but in the standings, we've played three of the toughest teams in our conference," said Knight. "When you come out with a six and two record, and probably the toughest places to play on the road in Trinity and Alberta, especially for us, so for us to get splits in those spots and to have a 6-2 record is huge."
Lacny said the first semester success is due to the team buying in to Knight's new platform early in the season.
"It's just shown that we've had a lot of depth," she said. "We've really come together since the beginning of the year and bought into new strategies. Jesse's new philosophy is different from what we're used to, but we're starting to get used to that and starting to play well together."
Despite a strong first half, Knight still sees room for improvement over the Christmas break.
"We're going to focus a lot defensively; we've got to tighten that up," he said. "I think we've got ourselves in a jam, so if we can take care of the defensive side of the ball hopefully we can be a little more dominant, but at the same token, we've shown it doesn't matter, we'll find a way."
The Dinos travel to the University of Regina this weekend for a two-game series against the Cougars to finish off the first half of the season. Lacny realizes the importance of winning those games.
"We need to play consistent for the whole weekend and really just execute everything we've been working on this semester and try and finish on a high note so that we go into next semester rollin'," she said.
The Dinos will use the month of December to work out the kinks they've come across so far.
They will travel to Florida for an invitational tournament a week before opening up second-half conference play against a tough University of British Columbia Thunderbird team.
"We're playing UBC, the national champs right after the break, so we had to find a way to compete at a high level, so we're going down [to Florida] to get a look at some other teams across the country, that's the main motivation," said Knight. "That other part is to team build, vacation a little bit so it's not too stressful and we can start the second semester fresh."
As for Lacny keeping her spot as starting setter, Knight says that although she is still growing, her skills are multifaceted.
"She's shown she can get the ball out of her hands fast and really shown deception so the other team really doesn't have a shot and speed, so we're very pleased with Sarah," he said.