May 25th, 2024

Volleyball wins send Kodiaks into happy holiday break

By Dale Woodard - Lethbridge Herald on December 1, 2021.

Herald photo by Dale Woodard Lethbridge College Kodiaks Liam Frost and Jeremiah Bohnert put up the block on Olds Broncos Matheus Franca in Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference play Saturday night at the Val Matteotti Gymnasium in this 2021 file photo.

The Lethbridge College Kodiaks men’s and women’s volleyball teams are headed to the holiday break on a winning note.

Wrapping up the first half of the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference season, the Kodiaks each posted 3-0 wins over the Olds Broncos Saturday night at the Val Matteotti Gymnasium.

With the wins, the Kodiaks volleyball teams wrap up the first half at 4-2 with four straight wins after an 0-2 start against the Red Deer Polytechnic Kings and Queens Nov. 12-14.

In basketball, the Kodiaks men split with the Old Broncos, dropping an 80-73 decision Saturday night in Olds to finish the first half at 4-2 and in a four-way tie for first place in the ACAC South with the 4-1 SAIT Trojans, 4-0 Calgary St. Mary’s University Lightning and the 4-2 RDP Kings.

On the women’s side, the Kodiaks posted a 2-0 sweep over the Broncos thanks to a 71-50 decision Saturday night in Olds to sit at 5-1, good for second in the South behind the 6-0 SAIT Trojans.

On Saturday night at the Val Matteotti Gymnasium, the Kodiaks men had to rally with 10 straight points with Nolan Moes dishing out the serves in the second set to post a comeback win on their way to the 3-0 decision (25-23, 25-23 25-20).

With starting setter Nash Shipton and left side Michael Kindley still out from the beginning of the year, head coach Greg Gibos credited his remaining younger squad for rallying the absence of the two and pushing to four straight wins heading into Christmas.

“I think you saw a young team maturing again,” said Gibos. “At those critical moments we were actually the best version of ourselves. For Nolan to go back there for 13 points and make his best spin serve I think is a really good sign of growth. For our guys to step up around him and make that comeback and come with the same energy in the third, it’s so hard to close a match in this league. So for our guys to come and really focus hard for those 20 points in the third set after a big win, you can really start to see the maturity in this group from when we talked two weeks ago.”

In addition to his 10 kills, Moes also served up five aces.

Jackson Gaehring added eight kills and Jeremiah Bohnert had seven kills and four blocked shots.

Malcolm Fisher contriubuted with five digs.

“I think you can really start to see our group has been in tough situations,” said Gibos. “We lost two guys three weeks ago who we would have said are our starters in Nash (broken hand) and Michael. For our guys to band around this and really start to grow together and build on this difficult situation and still fight hard, it would have been easy for us to slide after those first two games against Red Deer. But they said no, they want to get better and push themselves. To dig in like that as a bunch of second and third-year athletes is really showing the compete they have.”

That said, the coming month will bring plenty of rest and recovery, said Gibos.

“We definitely (need) a week or two of just starting to get healthy, even some of the guys who were on the floor tonight are pretty banged up. It’s been a long grind when you lose bodies, four guys have or practise longer to get ready for these matches against quality opponents. For us it’ll be a lot of rest and taking care of our academics. We’re student athletes first, so it’s making sure we’re all in good academic standing moving into the second semester.”

After that, Gibos said the plan is to play some exhibition games in January in anticipation of the 2022 portion of their schedule.

“Then we’ll get ready for the long second half. For us, it’s to get healthy, get healed, get physically stronger in the gym. We have a month to recover our bodies and put some muscle mass on and we’ll be ready for that next big step.”

Also, expect Shipton and Kindley to be back on the floor when the calendar flips to 2022.

“To be honest, if this was a playoff game, maybe they would have been pushing themselves to be there,” said Gibos. “But they’ll be ready come Jan. 5. Once we start playing preseason again, they’ll be ready to go.”

The Kodiaks women head into the break with what head coach Anna Schwark said is the most cohesive team she’s seen in a few years.

“We really trust each other now and we trust each other to do their role, on defence especially,” she said. “It’s really nice to have any six you put out there be comfortable with each other. They’ve just worked so hard in practice. The last two weeks they’ve been really grinding and battling for court time on the weekends. It’s really nice to see it paying off.”

In addition to the team’s serve pass, Schwark pointed to her team’s confidence and skill level as first half standouts.

“They’ve put in a lot of work on the court and in the gym. So it’s nice they have the confidence to put that into play. When we pass well, we’re able to get some big swings. That’s fun too, just give ourselves an opportunity to play volleyball by passing well.”

The Kodiaks posted 25-21, 25-15 and 25-17 set wins Saturday night as veteran Jamie Brown led the way with 10 kills, nine digs and one service ace. Fellow veteran Mack Lewicki had nine kills and nine digs.

Eryka Woods delivered four service aces in the winning cause.

Going into break on a winning note produces somewhat of a double-edged sword for Schwark.

“If you would have asked me three hours ago (before Saturday’s game) I would have said I’m so excited for the break,” she said. “But now that I feel we’re so hot it would be nice to get another couple of games in before Christmas. But at the same time, the rest is a good thing. It’s still that transition year where we’re learning.

“A normal league next year is going to be really demanding, so this is kind of a nice way to curve our injuries and make sure we’re healthy and maybe realize how much we love volleyball again. We’ve gotten used to it and gotten in that groove. So I think when we come back after New Year, we’re going to appreciate it and be really excited to get back on the floor.”

The Kodiaks volleyball teams kick off 2022 Jan. 14 when they host the SAIT Trojans at the Val Matteotti Gymnasium.

In Olds on Saturday night, the Kodiaks men’s basketball team put themselves in a hole early, falling behind 47-30 at the half.

Lethbridge rallied back with 20 points in the third quarter and 23 in the fourth, but the comeback fell short.

Tomoya Owens led the Kodiaks with 14 points and eight rebounds, while Chris Schlauwitz came off the bench to hit for 13 points.

Jack-Henry Fox-Grey had 12 points and Orin Porter and Timothy McMahon each had 10. McMahon also had five assists.

In the women’s game, Courtney Deemter and Kirsten Barwegen each had 18 points in the Kodiaks fifth win of the season. Barwegen posted the double double with 11 rebounds.

Brinna Jacobs added 11 points for Lethbridge and Montana Berezay hit for 10.

The basketball teams return in the New Year Jan. 14 when they head to Calgary to face SAIT.

Their first home game is the next night in a rematch with the Trojans.

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