By Woodard, Dale on February 24, 2020.
The Lethbridge College Kodiaks women’s volleyball team won’t be advancing to the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference playoffs.
That didn’t stop them from ending the season with a win.
Facing the Briercrest Clippers in their regular season finale Saturday afternoon at the Val Matteotti Gymnasium, the Kodiaks rolled to a 3-0 win (25-22, 25-20, 25-19).
With the win the Kodiaks finish the season at 9-14 and winners of five of their six final games.
It also gives them fourth place in the ACAC South Division, but not a provincial championship berth with the fifth-place Medicine Hat Rattlers getting the fourth spot as this year’s ACAC championship hosts.
So on Saturday, the Kodiaks went out swinging.
“Our pregame was really good,” said Kodiaks head coach Anna Schwark. “The girls were feeling really confident and they were gelling together. We have that mindset, win or lose, let’s just go down swinging and be proud of ourselves. It’s the end of the year, what do we have to lose? They were just in such a good mindset getting ready.
“Skill-wise, we just came out and really stuck to our game plan and we reduced our errors. It was really just the whole package, the girls worked really hard.”
Mack Lewicki and Jamie Brown hammered seven and six kills, respectively, and Lewicki put up nine digs.
Johanna Dixon had four digs and two services aces and 20 assists and Rae Whitehead added five kills and two blocked shots.
Coming into the weekend, the Kodiaks were on a four-game wining streak and went 7-5 in the second half.
“I think the big thing was the confidence,” said Schwark. “We talk about it a lot, but it really is just finding that confidence and believing in yourself. We started to look at our competition as our role models, too. We looked at this as the opportunity to play the second-best team in Canada. We gave Briercrest a lot of respect and I think that helped us prepare and try to find out what the mindset is of a champion. How do we become the elite athletes that they are? I think that definitely helped us, too.”
What’s better the majority of the team responsible for the sizzling second half will be back in 2020-21.
“Almost all of our starters are back and that is going to make a huge difference now that everybody has that experience,” said Schwark. “I think they’re roaring and ready to go for the spring. I think having that experience on the floor next year is going to make a huge difference for us.”
However, four Kodiaks will be moving on as Harper Elwood, LeeAnne Arnott, Morgan Bullerwell and Maile Funa depart the program.
“Harper has put in so much work the last five years,” said Schwark. “You cannot be more proud of her determination and her love of being a Kodiak. You don’t find that passion very often and we are definitely going to miss her hard work and her love for the game.”
Arnott graduates from the massage therapy program.
“She’s so athletic and it’s too bad we couldn’t have her longer, but we knew program wise she was going to have to move on,” said Schwark. “We’re just hoping to continue see her play, we’re not sure what her plans quite are yet. But she was another young, athletic girl that made everybody around her better because she was just so naturally talented. So we will definitely miss her.”
Funa also graduates from the massage therapy program.
“She’s a really great, local talent and we were really excited that we were able to keep her in Lethbridge,” said Schwark. “I think this year she found her aggressiveness and her relentless side to play volleyball and I think (Saturday) was a really good example of that. (Saturday) she was hitting balls harder than she had all year, she was just so aggressive and she really went out with a bang. We couldn’t have asked for more from her this weekend, that is for sure.”
A Saskatchewan product, Bullerwell graduates from the agriculture science program.
“I think in her first year she kind of struggled a little bit with confidence, but this year, especially in the first semester, she was 100 per cent consistent,” said Schwark. “We put her in any situation we could get her in and she has worked really hard. So we will miss her.”
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