Power player

VIU Mariners volleyball veteran Lindsay McLoughlin gets ready to serve the ball. She and her teammates start the B.C. Colleges’ Athletic Association championships on Friday (Feb. 25).

VIU Mariners volleyball veteran Lindsay McLoughlin gets ready to serve the ball. She and her teammates start the B.C. Colleges’ Athletic Association championships on Friday (Feb. 25).

There’s something special about championship teams, and every one is unique. So usually, athletes don’t like to make comparisons when they try to repeat the feat.

That’s not the case with the VIU Mariners women’s volleyball players, including all-star power hitter Lindsay McLoughlin. The M’s, she said, aren’t shy about looking back to their 2008 championship season and trying to replicate it.

“Because this team is so similar to our team in ’08, we do compare ourselves often,” McLoughlin said.

VIU volleyball fans might recall how that year ended – in the national final, with McLoughlin leaping into the air and delivering the final kill for match point and championship gold. That team, she said, had a special bond not unlike the 2010-11 M’s.

“That’s a really big similarity and I think it’s a strong one and I think that’s really beneficial for us to have,” said McLoughlin. “It’s working. What we have right now is working really well for us.”

It’s helped the Mariners to a 13-1 record and a bye into the provincial semifinals this Friday (Feb. 25) in Kelowna.

Whatever happens, it will be the last post-season run for McLoughlin, a fifth-year player. Winning is important, she said, but in her final year, there’s more to it than that. She wants to have fun and embrace the experience and those things will contribute to winning. She knows what to expect, going to provincials and nationals, but there are always unknowns.

“I never really know what the outcome is going to be,” she said.

And that creates both nerves and excitement.

“It’s kind of a roller coaster…” said McLoughlin.  “Can you be mentally tough [in] a hard game? Are you scared of losing? If anything goes wrong, it’s going to be up in our heads.”

This week, as always, the 22-year-old from Campbell River will be relied upon for leadership and her usual standout play.McLoughlin does it all, said coach Shane Hyde. Her defence, passing and serving make her an all-round player. All that combined with her hitting makes her an all-star.

“You just can’t teach power,” Hyde said. “You can teach kids how to jump and how to swing but there are some players that have it, some players that don’t and she has it. She has the power.”

The kind that can make that crucial kill to win a match, or a championship. She’s talked to her teammates about that sort of game situation. Maybe one of them will be jumping up for one final kill; maybe it will be McLoughlin again. The outcome is about to play out.

“It’s an awesome feeling knowing you have the potential to do something huge,” she said.

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