Seven more wins. All they need to capture that elusive national crown are seven more wins. Problem is, it's not going to be easy.
"We're in a conference where six of the top seven teams in the country are competing for three berths at nationals," explained Dinos women's volleyball Head Coach Kevin Boyles of the ludicrously competitive Canada West Conference.
Competitive or not, the Dinos have gotten it done all season, finishing the 2003-04 campaign with an impressive 17-3 record and holding the top spot nationally from the preseason rankings to the verge of the national championship.
The squad's most recent victims were the lowly 7-11 University of Regina Cougars. A 3-0 (25-17, 25-23, 25-21) victory in Regina Fri., Feb. 6 followed by a 3-1 (24-26, 25-21, 25-20, 25-22) triumph the next night sealed the Cougars' fate.
With the Dinos' bye coming in the final week of the schedule, they can do nothing but sit back and watch as the #2 University of Alberta Pandas host the #4 University of British Columbia Thunderbirds Feb. 13-14. If UBC wins both matches, or if the teams split, the Dinos will host the Canada West Final Four Feb. 27-28. If the Pandas pull out a pair of victories, however, the volleysaurs will need to travel up Highway 2 to the not-so-friendly confines of Edmonton.
"We've only lost once at home all season, so obviously hosting the Final Four is our goal," said Boyles following the team's last home match against the University of Manitoba Bisons. "But I'm confident we're headed to [nationals in] Saskatoon anyways."
For a pair of Dinos, fifth-years Amanda Moppett and Jill Friend, this is their final shot at finishing the year on a winning note.
"This is my last chance, my last seven games," said Friend, a veteran middle who just recently worked her way back into the Dinos' rotation following off-season shin surgery. "Every other year it's been me thinking 'I'd better start, I'd better this, I'd better that.' This year I don't care, I just want to be on the team that wins nationals."
Step one on the road to Saskatoon takes place Feb. 20-21 at the Jack Simpson Gymnasium. Their opponent is yet to be determined.