By Woodard, Dale on October 18, 2019.
The Lethbridge College Kodiaks women’s volleyball team are determined to prove last season was merely a blip on the radar.
The Kodiaks open their Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference season tonight when they host the SAIT Trojans at 6 p.m. at the Val Matteotti Gymnasium.
Coming off a 2018-19 season that saw the Kodiaks go 4-20 after making the playoffs the season before and ending a 10-year post-season drought, the Kodiaks head into the new season looking to return to where they were two years ago.
“The outcome wasn’t what we expected last year and I think there’s a chip on their shoulder and they’re ready to prove everybody wrong that we can do so much better,” said Kodiaks head coach Anna Schwark. “It was just a lack of confidence last year.
“I think, realistically, we’re still kind of in the rebuilding phase, but I think we’re coming to the end. I think with the leadership we have this year with our setter Jamie Brown, she comes in and she expects the most from everybody.
“So it’s been fun to see her get more and more confident every year in that role.”
The Kodiaks took a preseason trip to St. Boniface University in Winnipeg to plays some new teams.
“Which was awesome because it gave us more of an opportunity to see how we can develop a new game plan and stick with it,” said Schwark.
The following weekend the Kodiaks headed to Lloydminster to face some ACAC opponents, including the always-tough Briercrest Clippers.
“We made huge strides in that one week,’ said Schwark. “Seeing us against Briercrest, every time we play them we know that they’re going to be clean and we know that they’re playing hard and we kept up with them pretty well. We lost in five sets, but I think we were all really happy seeing that result. Our freshman came out strong. It was nice to see them come out and be ready to kick some butt and get some court time.”
The first-years impressed their coach with their preparedness for the coming season.
“The one thing that I think sets this recruiting class apart from past years is that I definitely saw they put in the work in the off-season,” said Schwark. “In the summer they were working out and they were training and getting as many touches as they could. So coming in in September they were so much more ready.”
The Kodiaks bring in first-year left side Kylie Morrison.
“She’s just been outstanding so far,” said Schwark. “She’s so consistent at serve receive. She has a nice, high swing and is really smart offensively. We’ve been really excited about her. We have a couple of liberos who I think will definitely be earning some court time. All of our right sides are first years along with Morgan Bullerwell. All three of them are putting up a good fight for that position as well. It’s so awesome to have so many options. It’s hard as a coach to pick who’s out there, but it’s a really great problem to have.”
After tonight’s game, the Kodiaks head to Calgary for the rematch Saturday night starting with the women’s game at 6 p.m. and the men at 8 p.m.
“We had a great week of practice, so I think we’re all really amped up to get out there (tonight). I think SAIT is a little bit younger than we’re used to them being. But that doesn’t mean they’re not going to be clean and not going to be aggressive. I’m expecting two five-setters this weekend. I’m hoping for wins, obviously, but I think we’re going to have to work really hard. I’m so excited to see the girls get out there and just battle.”
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