This year’s NAIT Ooks women’s volleyball team is coming of two losses in the playoffs last year that bumped the North fourth-seeded Ooks to eighth place in the ACAC. This year’s team has gotten stronger at every position, from the setter, the right/left sides, the middle and the libero. We will have to wait for the season to start to see if this holds true.
“Everyone has really strong fundamentals,” said assistant coach Candice Hughes. “At the base of any sport, strong fundamentals can make a strong team.”
Hughes went on to say that a challenge that lies ahead for this team is youth.
“They’re strong talent-wise, their only challenge will be their youth.”
The women’s squad has three thirdyear players on the team. This can be an upside as these few veterans can help shape the team for upcoming season to help the Ooks get into contention for an ACAC championship.
Benj Heinrichs is currently in his fifth year as a head coach of the team. He is a two-time ACAC Coach of the Year award winner and he goes by some important values: joy, courage, growth mindset, and integrity. His students within the past year hold a collective GPA of 3.2.
Heinrichs seems to not just be focused on athletes but student athletes. The support from both sides can help take the load off these athletes, knowing they have a coaching staff that supports their lifestyle.
They have some height to add to their arsenal, with most of the middles and outside hitters being five-foot-11 and the setters being at least five-foot-eight. Their height alone maybe be a huge upside.
This year’s version of the team will be unique in the sense that they will have the height and solid fundamental skills running on all cylinders.
“They have a good attitude, they are super willing to learn,” said Hughes.
The process of becoming elite within the ACAC is challenging, but attainable. There are many pieces connected that can help this team in those tough games.
This year’s team has the height, fundamentals and attitude to make a run at the top in the conference, and a deep run in the playoffs.
It might be early, but there is also a good chance that the women’s volleyball team is in the hunt for a medal at the end of year.