This is exactly the way the Vancouver Island University Mariners wanted to go into the playoffs.
VIU’s women’s volleyball team begins the Pacific Western Athletic Association championships this week (Feb. 20-22) in North Vancouver as the No. 1 seed and the favourites.
What’s more, the Mariners women will bring competitive fire after an emotional final weekend that saw graduating players Leanna Gildersleeve, Paige Wiebe and Ashley Cousens honoured at their last game at the VIU gym.
“The girls on the bench couldn’t wait to get onto the court to give the three fifth-years a hug and that’s our team this year,” said Shane Hyde, VIU coach. “Our team is tight.”
The last home match of the season came against the Camosun Chargers on Friday, a convincing 25-17, 25-11, 25-20 straight-sets victory. The coach liked how his team responded to the challenge of playing a meaningful volleyball game on a special night.
“When they play these types of hard matches … emotional- roller-coaster type matches, we’re ready for them,” he said.
The win clinched first place in the conference and a first-round bye at provincials.
“It’s nice that we came first, it was definitely one of our goals,” said Gildersleeve. “Now we know that anyone we potentially face, it’s going to be a tough match. It should be interesting [this] week.”
During the last two weeks of the season, VIU beat not only Camosun but also Columbia Bible College, another possible playoff opponent. That could bode well for the Mariners to have more success this week, said Hyde.
“Chances are good,” said Gildersleeve. “I feel like our team is peaking at the right time and I am so excited to play at provincials.”
GAME ON … VIU’s men’s volleyball team will also be competing at provincials in North Van this week, and will start play today (Feb. 20). The VIU women get today off before playing tomorrow.