M’s a good bet, suggests libero

VIU Mariners volleyball player Sandra Veikle takes on expanded role in her final playoff run.

VIU Mariners player Sandra Veikle celebrates a point during a match earlier this month at the VIU gym.

VIU Mariners player Sandra Veikle celebrates a point during a match earlier this month at the VIU gym.

There’s a saying that defence wins championships, but it’s fun to be on the front lines sometimes, too.

VIU Mariners fifth-year volleyball player Sandra Veikle got a chance, as the season wound down, to play above the net a little bit and make some kills and blocks. But as the graduating veteran enters her final playoff run, she’ll be taking to the court in her familiar libero position, specializing on defence and passing – the only stat that Veikle and the Mariners are thinking about right now is number of championships.

VIU begins play at the Pacific Western Athletic Association championships Friday (Feb. 22) in Cranbrook.

“I think our chances are great. We have, obviously, the semifinal that we’re not looking past, at provincials…” Veikle said. “But if I was a betting person I would bet on us. I think player for player we have some of the best skill in the province and in this country.”

She knows it well. Because of so much depth up and down the roster of Vancouver Island University’s women’s volleyball team, it’s only been this past season that Veikle became an everyday starter at libero.

“I’ve been put in that role and not looking back,” she said. “I think I’m taking on a lot more responsibility in controlling the backcourt and helping our first- and second-years find their way.”

Leading by example, she brings her positivity to games and practices. It’s easy – Veikle said maybe sometimes in first semester, players had to summon motivation for practice, but not anymore.

“You never feel that in the second semester. It’s just go, go, go,” she said. “Every game is important and it’s getting closer and closer to those big matches, which is provincials and nationals. So it’s really exciting and a lot of fun to play.”

She’s cherishing, too, these final weeks of her college volleyball career. She said it was nice to be considered a big deal for one night last Saturday in her last match at the VIU gym, and she appreciated the cheers.

“Everything has a little extra meaning,” Veikle said. “The last league game had extra meaning, provincials, nationals, everything has just a little bit more, because it’s the last kick at the can, essentially,” she said. “There’s a lot more on the line.”