By Woodard, Dale on October 13, 2017.
Last year, the Lethbridge College men’s volleyball team was knocking on the door.
This year, they’d like to kick it down.
The Kodiaks will put their first foot foward tonight when they kick off their Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference season as they host the Medicine Hat Rattlers at 8 p.m. at the Val Matteotti Gymnasium, the first in a home-and-home series that wraps up Saturday in Medicine Hat.
After going 11-13 last season and missing the playoffs by a mere four points, the Kodiaks look to take the next step into the post-season picture.
That, and look for a little finish in those fifth sets the team found themselves in more than once last season.
“For us we were super-close last year; we missed the playoffs by one match,” said Kodiaks second-year head coach Greg Gibos. “We lost seven fifth sets last year, so we’re right on the cusp of things. So this year we’re really looking to get over the hump.”
ACAC south division all-star Dax Whitehead and Magrath product Carter Hansen return to lead a potent Kodiaks attack after finishing third and fourth, respectively, in kills in the south division last season.
The athleticism aside, Gibos noted just as much the quality of people on his roster.
“The biggest thing for our guys this year is they’re a close group and they care about each other,” said Gibos. “I think if we have one thing that drives us it’s we are a team and the leadership and group of guys we have, I can’t speak highly enough to the character and just the type of people. When you’re working toward a goal as a team and you’re not just working for yourself, then it’s a powerful experience. I think we have a team that is a team in every sense of the word. We’re a group that is going to go far based on how good we are together.”
Among those returnees is second-year libero Matt Primrose.
“We’re very excited, I think we’re going to do really well,” said Primrose. “I think coming back from the summer, the goal for us was to get better in the off-season. We’re just staying level-headed. We can’t have too many lulls, we can’t get down or high.”
The off-season work the Kodiaks put in should help the team find themselves back in the multitude of fifth sets they were in last season.
“I think it helped in the off-season with cardio and that mentality so we’re not gassed going into fifth set,” said Primrose. “We’d like to get it done in three, but if we have to go four or five, we can still get a win out of that.”
As they look to take the next step to playoffs this season, Gibos said the Kodiaks biggest motivators are themselves.
“We’re competitive. Our group is competitive every day. We’re in there practising and our competitive guys hate losing drills and when you’re so close that you can taste it, it’s a big motivating factor coming forward. For us, we don’t need that external motivation, we have a lot of internal motivation among ourselves. We want to get over the hump, get to Medicine Hat (for provincials) at least and go hard for those big wins.”
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