The Ooks volleyball teams are coming home from Fort McMurray this weekend with hopes of finishing the season strong.
The women’s team kept rolling by defeating the Keyano Huskies 3-1 in both matches, extending their winning streak to five games. The men’s team defeated the Huskies in a gruelling five-set match last Friday but was defeated in straight sets in the double-header rematch the following afternoon. With Augustana also losing Saturday, the Ooks remain tied for the lead in the North Division. The women remain one win back of third.
Friday night, the women dominated the Huskies for the majority of the match, despite losing focus in the third set. Scores were 25-13, 25-20, 13-25 and 25-22. Shaynah Godlein won player of the match for the Ooks, posting 15 kills. Tara Vogd added five blocks in a strong effort at the net.
The following afternoon, the script was nearly identical to the previous night, as the ladies again only suffered one bad set in an otherwise solid match. Set scores were 25-23, 25-19, 14-25 and 25-17. Candice Hughes topped the Ooks with 15 kills while Tiffany Evans won player of the match thanks to 10 kills and 16 digs.
Head coach Benj Heinrichs expressed his excitement about how his team has continued to improve throughout the second half of the season and how the team showed good focus and toughness this past weekend despite being short players going up to Keyano. The Ooks had two players missing for the Friday match and three missing for the rematch on Saturday.
“This team works very hard,” said Heinrichs. “They support each other and have a great desire to continue learning and getting better.”
The men went to war with a physical Huskies squad Friday but soon found themselves down 11-7 in the fifth set. However, the Ooks rallied in fine fashion, winning 22-25, 25-17, 25-15, 17-25 and 18-16. Bryce Cardinal pounded the Huskies with a career high 21 kills to win POG honours. Saturday, the Ooks lost a few leads of their own. Set scores were 27-29, 25-27 and 24-26. Sean Renaud was the player of the game with 42 assists.
Men’s coach Doug Anton said that his team just needs to stay within their regular routine to be successful.
“Keyano is a big physical team and we had trouble containing their left side attackers and managing their serve pressure. Even though we split, we improved our play in each match this weekend.”
The two teams host the Grande Prairie Wolves this weekend. The women’s squad hope to finish strong, starting against a Wolves team that is just one win ahead in the standings.
“As a coach, it’s been a blast to work with such a great group,” said Heinrichs. “The Wolves have only lost one match in their last 15, so it will definitely be a huge test as we prepare for the playoffs.”
The men already have the playoffs locked up but need wins against the hungry Wolves to stay in first place. Anton says the team’s focus in the coming week will be executing more calm and consistent play as well improving on transition play.
“A few tweaks in those areas and we should have a positive outcome next weekend. It would be great to win the rest of our league matches but our true focus at this stage is preparing for the ACAC Championships in three weeks.”
The action starts Friday evening in the NAIT gym with the ladies at playing at 6 p.m. Saturday, the women open in the afternoon at 1 p.m. Both men’s matches follow.
By Craig Fraser