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Dinos volleyball returns to the court

By Rodrigo Verney, September 28 2021—

University of Calgary volleyball fans can set their eyes on the beginning of November as sports are finally reopening again. The 2021-2022 season is full of excitement for the men’s and women’s varsity volleyball teams. 

The men’s varsity team already began the season without a break as their first matchup was with the Mount Royal University Cougars on back-to-back home games on Nov. 5 and 6. The crosstown battle is a much awaited dispute between the two teams. From the last time these two met, Calgary has won six times. The longest winning streak was three matches in a row. The Dinos have an overall record with 14 wins and 10 losses facing the Cougars.

There are some changes to better fit the COVID return-to-play guidelines. The main difference of this new format is that the Dinos will play within the province for the entirety of the regular season. Hence, there will be many repetitive matches. The so-called “18-match” modification will have the Dinos going up against the Cougars, the University of Alberta and MacEwan University. Each of these teams will face the Dinos six times.

The University of Calgary will host men’s volleyball games for the majority of the first half of the season as they will be having Mount Royal University and MacEwan University coming to visit. The first half will end at the University of Alberta on Nov. 26 and at Mount Royal University on Dec. 3. The new year will see the return of the Dinos as they match up against the University of Alberta Golden Bears. Not long after, they will be having the University of Alberta Pandas on Jan. 21. 

Photo by David Moll

Even though the season will be exclusively divisional play, the situation is set to change once the post-season arrives. The first round of the playoffs, set to begin in March, will feature three four-team pools that will fight for the six available spots in the second round. They will then be divided into two pools with the top two teams guaranteeing a spot on the Canada West Final Four. 

The team looks stronger than ever even if a few athletes are entering their fourth year. The core is still the same and the team has been training following the COVID guidelines for well over a year now. They have focused mostly on developing their bodies and their resistance during their time away from the court. This is why they seem to be at the top of their game. It goes without saying that with so much time without proper playing time, they are eager for a win in November.

Calgary saw their 2020 run being cut short by the Brandon University Bobcats at the quarter-finals of the Canada West playoff. Finishing their last season participation with a losing record, the Dinos are ready to turn a new page and show Canada that they are still a force to be reckoned with. 

The women’s volleyball team will also have to endure more battles on the return to court games. The atmosphere for their return is electric as the team had a great run last season. As a result, the excitement for their return will be present throughout campus. Even though they won’t be starting their new season on their turf, every Dinos fan will be cheering them on wherever they’ll be. 

Their first matchup will be the University of Regina Cougars on Friday, Sept. 24 at 6 p.m. The Dinos have had a great run against them in the past, winning 51 games of their total 64 since 1988. The excitement is not unique to the fans, as the players are also ecstatic about putting their jerseys back on and defending Rex, may that be at the University of Calgary or beyond it.

Photo by David Moll

However, the newly appointed head coach for the women’s volleyball team, Christine Biggs, is looking to bring an impact to the court and won’t let the team dwell on the past too much. 

“The beautiful thing about sports is that regardless of past achievements there are a lot of different things and you will always do everything you can to walk away with the W [victory]. There is excitement, but that is not exclusive to our team,” she said.

Having the first game on the road can be quite a mood kill, but Biggs is confident that the players’ hunger for a win is much bigger than the venue they will be playing at. 

“One of the things that we will try to do this season is making that nine-by-nine [the court] our own wherever we are. It doesn’t have to have a Dinos logo in the center of it for us to feel like it is ours to defend,” she said.

A team, however, is only as strong as its weakest piece. To honour the hard work we saw last season, it will be necessary to have the same team chemistry and leadership present on the last season of play. Biggs was able to see this passion and drive on the training the Dinos were able to have under the new Practice Guidelines that Alberta passed. Biggs went on to say that each piece has “been a leader at different points during this process of getting back to play.”

The women’s volley team will return Nov. 5 after playing this past weekend. They will be playing the Mount Royal Cougars after the 40-day hiatus, a much awaited matchup. Biggs assured us that the focus during October will be to work on the feedback they will have after this weekend and on the lowlights of their first couple of matchups.

We are all excited and hoping for a safe and fruitful return to action from both teams. The University of Calgary has a great winning record in many varsity sports and it is an immense pleasure to be able to contribute to the history of the champions that this university so proudly upholds. From the fans and campus members, we would like to wish them all good luck.

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