The highly touted University Of Calgary Dinos women's volleyball team is back for another year of stellar play and ready to take a bite at gold. The 2006 Canadian Interuniversity Sport and Canada West bronze medallist Dinos wrapped up their pre-season by grabbing another bronze, this one on a lower scale, finishing third out of five teams at the annual Sask Cup in Saskatoon Oct. 5-7.
The tournament, played in by five out of the ten teams in the CW--the University of Manitoba Bisons, University of Regina Rams, University of Saskatchewan Huskies, Thompson Rivers Wolf Pack and the Dinos--proved to be a highly competitive and challenging affair for all those involved. If the tournament was any indication, it will be another close year for the western branch of the CIS.
"The teams in the CanWest are very strong this year," said third-year player Raynell Lavertu. "It will be interesting to see how things turn out. We'll have to play our best ball every game."
The Dinos started the weekend tournament strong, facing off against the host Huskies in the opening game and battling both the team and its volleyball-crazed, university fan base. The Dinos silenced the fans by grabbing the win in five sets, with a wide margin of victory, 25-11, in the final and deciding set. The girls were unable to maintain their momentum in their second match of the day, barely being edged out by the Rams in another five-set showdown.
The most frustrating game of the tournament came for the Dinos against the Bisons. The Dinos held a 2-0 set stranglehold, dominating the first set 25-11, only to allow the Bisons to battle back and eventually take the match in yet another tie-breaking set. The Bisons went undefeated in the tournament and took home the gold.
"The Bisons always play at a consistent level," noted fourth-year social science major Holly Harper. "We came out at a high energy level which was hard to maintain and unfortunately allowed them to catch up."
The Dinos finished the round robin with a split record of 2-2 before entering the bronze medal game on Sunday. They earned their second victory of the tournament over Thompson Rivers, winning in four sets, with 25-12, 25-15 and 25-14 triumphs to glide into their third place finish.
With the pre-season over and summer rust all gone, the impressive Dinos squad can now look forward to the regular season, and mainly, playing in front of their home crowd fans at the upcoming Husky Dino Cup next weekend, Oct. 18 and 19. The lady Dinos play twice, against their closest rivals, the University of Alberta Pandas. The team is excited for the upcoming event as a great way to kick-start what will surely be another strong season.
"We played 21 sets over the weekend, it will be nice to play with all of our energy and focus on one game," concluded Harper. "Plus, it's always fun to play our rivals the U of A."