When you’re as good as the Vancouver Island University women’s volleyball team, you can afford a little fun in the sun during a six-week mid-season break.
That’s the approach Shayne Hyde, coach of the No. 2 nationally ranked Mariners, is taking to get is team ready for the second half of the season.
And why not? The last time Hyde took his team to San Diego, where they’ll be visiting again from Dec. 27 to Jan. 5, VIU won the national title, in 2008.
“We’re hoping history can repeat itself,” said Hyde.
It won’t be all poolside refreshments, however. VIU will take B.C rival University of Fraser Valley and two teams from Quebec with them for training, scrimmages and a tournament to prepare for the second half of the season.
Fraser Valley, with two games in hand, enters the break with a 12-2 record, good enough for fourth place in the national rankings, while VIU is 11-1.
Hyde said it’s taking a little more time this season to generate some team cohesiveness, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
“Where we are right now is where I assumed we’d be with the talent we have on this team,” said Hyde. “We’ve kind of been rotating people around a little and our typical team cohesion isn’t there like it normally is like when you fight to find that starting six and you play that starting six and everybody has a role. We haven’t defined any roles yet because we have so many players who can step in and be starters.”
Hyde added that the Mariners have the luxury of developing the team more slowly this year because VIU hosts the national championship in March, which gives the Mariners an automatic berth in the tournament.
“It’s not like previous years where we have to develop a starting line and win all of our games,” he said. “We’re not just developing one lineup, but several lineups.”
Despite its high ranking, the team still has some weaknesses, including passing and unforced errors, which it will work on while in San Diego.
The Mariners are also being pushed to improve by schools in their own division.
Hyde said he’s somewhat surprised at the level of competition coming right out of the Pacific Western Athletic Association.
“There are usually only one or two teams gunning for us, but this year there are three legit teams that are really pushing us,” he said. “Columbia Bible College, Capilano and Fraser Valley are all there, but Columbia Bible College are definitely not the team they were in the first half.”
In the last two matches before the break, CBC, which is 4-7 overall, pushed VIU to five games both days, with VIU squeaking by 25-18, 23-25,25-20,19-25, 15-7 last Friday and 18-25, 25-19, 18-25, 25-15, 15-12 on Saturday.
VIU’s only set loss came Nov. 4 against Fraser Valley, which beat them 3-2 before VIU rebounded the next day with a strong 3-1 win.
“We’re still not at the top of our game yet,” said Hyde. “We’ll develop over the break and become tighter as a team.”