February 6, 2007
Out of the way
Both Wolves volleyball teams sweep visiting Clippers on weekend
By JEFF KORENKO
You could hardly blame the Grande Prairie Regional College Wolves women's volleyball squad if it, at times, peeked past the visiting Briercrest College Clippers while seeing them on the other side of the net on the weekend.
After all, the Clippers came into the weekend tilts with just one win in 22 matches this ACAC season and next up for the Wolves is a crucial two-match set with the King's University College Eagles this weekend.
Nonetheless, the Wolves accomplished what they set out to do in completing a sweep of the Clippers at the college gym Saturday while fine-tuning their game with a 3-0 (25-17, 25-14, 25-14) victory.
After starting the second half of the campaign facing the Blue Division's top three teams and losing all six matches, Saturday gave the Wolves an opportunity to work out the kinks, said co-captain Erinn Brady, who put forth a team player-of-the-game performance by finishing with eight kills, eight digs and a pair of aces.
"I felt good out there. I was more consistent than I had been lately. Everybody was working hard and well out there," said Brady, who helped spearhead a dominant run with a couple of aces in the second set that blew open the match.
"We have been doing a lot of new stuff in practice and it really was a chance for us to work on it; a good opportunity for us to work on our outside blocking because they have a couple of good outside hitters," said Brady.
"We have played the top three teams in our division right away to start the second half and our play was a little disheartening, so it was good to have a couple of wins.
"There was a lot of good digs, a lot of talk and communication by our side. We stayed positive on the court and that felt good."
The straight-set win followed a 3-0 (25-14, 29-27, 25-18) decision in the Wolves' favour Friday night and improved the team's record to 10-12. They are now 10 points back of the third-place Red Deer College Queens (15-7) and six points up on the fifth-place Eagles entering the showdown this weekend in Grande Prairie.
With the teams tied at five points each in the second set, the Wolves got aces from Brady and Kacey Bowman and big blocks at the net from the likes of Kim Wayland, Kristen Roberts and Kehly MacDuff in running away with the set 25-14.
It was more of the same in the third, as the Wolves passed the ball sharply and dominated in the middle, while the Clippers struggled in their transition from defence to offence in having to send far too many free balls over the mesh. Tabitha Garry, who contributed six digs, was named the Briercrest player of the game.
"The girls came out and realistically I think we controlled the match. We had a little better serve receive than we did (Friday) when it wasn't up to our standard," said Wolves head coach Grace Scott.
"(Saturday) we made good choices in terms of hitting. Everybody picked up their game on defence and our middles hit the ball well.
"Briercrest may be at the bottom of the pack, but they are still a very good team. They make a lot of digs and they have one of the best teams in the province in terms of serving aces," Scott said.
"We knew we had to be ready for that and to not take anyone for granted."
While it was pretty much smooth sailing past the Clippers for the women, the Wolves men rebounded Saturday with a four-set win after coming away with what was one of their tightest matches of the season - a five-set victory Friday night.
Led by six kills and five blocks from middle Matt Clegg, the Wolves emerged with a 4-1 (25-22, 25-18, 14-25, 25-19) decision. While the first two sets were close, the Wolves were never in any jeopardy of surrendering either of them.
And after getting throttled in the third set 14-25, they jumped out to an early 11-4 lead in the fourth and never looked back.
"I was pretty happy to get the wins. They are right behind us in the standings," said men's coach Loren Jacula. "They are a good team." The coach also pointed out his side did well in adjusting to the absence of libero Curran Speager, who was out of the lineup with a twisted knee sustained last week.
Rookie setter Matt Kostiuk did an admirable job in filling that role, which was helped by the fact the team played well defensively as a whole after making some adjustments from Friday night, Jacula said.
"We were missing (Curran) and it was a struggle. I was happy we won both, that's for sure.
"Matt played great (having to play out of position). We tried to take some responsibilities Curran had away from him and then the guys all chipped in and helped do what Curran does for us," said Jacula.
The two wins upped the Wolves' record to 12-10. They are securely in fourth spot, leading the fifth-place Clippers, who fell to 7-17, by 10 points. The Wolves trail the third-place Mount Royal College Cougars (16-6) by eight points.
Friday night, the Wolves were pushed to the limit, as they required the full five games to clip the Clippers. After narrowly winning the first set 27-25, the Wolves fell 24-26 in the second and won the third by a 26-24 count, before Briercrest extended the match with a 25-12 pounding of the Wolves.
However, Grande Prairie was able to pull out the match in another close set by eking out a 15-12 win in the fifth.