In what was the closest of matches played by the University of Calgary Dinos women volleysaurs this year, the young team prevailed over their northern rivals, the University of Alberta Pandas. Sticking with the formula that has brought them out to a 6-2 start this year, Coach Boyles kept his young stars on the court. Showing the type of poise usually reserved for more experienced university players, the youngest Dinos delivered some key performances in both come-from-behind victories. Leading the way on Sat. afternoon was Laura Wilson, who led the Dinos with 21 kills, and first-year setter Sarah Lacny who played the entire match.
Saturday's win was impressive as the Dinos, losing both the first and third sets, battled back both times. In the fifth set, Holly Harper, recovering from an off-week at Manitoba, had a crucial kill and ace in the final points to salt away Friday's match. In the end, the scores were extremely tight at 21-25, 25-21, 20-25, 25-23, 17-15, and indicative of how closely matched the teams were. To coach Boyles, the win was integral in building some team confidence after a disappointing loss the week before.
"With this team, that kind of a win is so important," commented Boyles. "We are playing a young group right now, and while they're playing very well at times, they're not necessarily competing all the time. This team needs to learn how to win and this was a big step in that direction."
Sunday's win was equally impressive, and seemed to mirror Sat.'s match with the Dinos coming out on top again. Again, Calgary was forced to play catch-up as the Pandas jumped out to 1-0 and 2-1 set leads, only to have the Calgary volleyballers claw back. This time, one of the more experienced Dinos players, Harper, led the way to victory, 23-25, 25-20, 24-26, 26-24, 16-14, with 24 kills.
"It's nice to see that Harper was able to fight back from struggling, because she didn't play well in Manitoba and got put back on the bench," said Boyles about his fourth-year right side.
Harper was so good over the weekend that she was honoured on Tue. as the Canada West female player of the week, alongside her male counterpart Henry Bekkering of the University of Calgary men's basketball squad.
The Dinos end their first half of the season at 8-2 and move into a tie for third place in the CIS, poised to make a run come the new year.
"We're now at the same position we were last year heading into the break," said Boyles. "I think the girls are starting to realize they're capable of the same or better result. Gutting out tough wins against a good team like Alberta is really important and it's what we're trying to build."
Hopefully 2008 will be as kind to the improving Dinos squad.