The Dalhousie Tigers women’s volleyball team will look to defend their AUS title on their home court as the 2014 Subway AUS Women’s Volleyball Championship begins on February 14 at the Dalplex.
This year’s edition features the Saint Mary’s Huskies, UNB Varsity Reds, Moncton Aigles Bleues, Memorial Sea-Hawks, Acadia Axewomen and the host Dalhousie Tigers. The Tigers will look to be the first team to defend an AUS women’s volleyball title since 2007.
Let’s look at a quick preview of each team:
#6 Acadia Axewomen (4-12)
The sixth-seeded Axewomen will face an uphill challenge at the championship this weekend, as they managed only four wins this season. One of those wins, however, came against the UNB Varsity Reds, who they will face in their first matchup on Friday night.
Head coach Michelle Wood admits that although her team has improved, they may have a tough test ahead of them, “We have made great strides with our control on defense and with our blocking this season. Unfortunately we have been inconsistent within each set that we’ve played.”
The trio of Sarah Ross, Meg Rector and Kristen Bolduc have been strong for the Axewomen all year, all in the top ten in kills per set in the AUS, while Hillary Monette has been strong defensively and is third in the AUS in digs per set.
First game: Friday, February 14 @ 7:00pm vs #3 UNB Varsity Reds.
#5 Memorial Sea-Hawks (6-10)
It’s certainly been a rollercoaster season for the Memorial Sea-Hawks, who come into the championship as the fifth seed.
After beginning the season with an 0-5 record, the Sea-Hawks won three straight games before dropping four straight. They won their last two games of the season, albeit against the 0-16 Cape Breton Capers. They will need the duo of Samantha March and Angela Peddle to carry them if they are to find success this weekend.
They’ll face the fourth-seeded Moncton Aigles Bleues in their quarter-final matchup, and they split the season series with Moncton 1-1, although the teams have not faced each other since early November.
First game: Friday, February 14 @ 5:00pm vs #4 Moncton Aigles Bleues.
#4 Moncton Aigles Bleues (6-10)
Things got off to a rocky start for Moncton as they sputtered to a 2-7 record to begin the season. Ever since, they have posted a 4-3 record, including a big 3-2 win against #2 seed Saint Mary’s on February 1.
Although they averaged a mere 9.44 kills per set, Moncton is not a team to look past, as they capitalize by forcing other teams to make errors.
The Aigles Bleues will rely on their top two point-getters Genevieve LeBlanc and Joline Richard this weekend, in order to move on to the semifinals.
First Game: Friday, February 14 @ 5:00pm vs #5 Memorial Sea-Hawks
#3 UNB Varsity Reds (7-9)
After dropping their first ten matches of the year, the UNB Varsity Reds have rebounded well, posting a 9-7 record since their disastrous start. Head coach Jilliane Goulet attributes their recent success to their leadership, but admits that they will face a stern test against Acadia in the quarter-finals, saying “Acadia’s a tough team, with very talented players. We’ve had to play at our best to get both of our previous wins against them, and we’re going to have to do the same on Friday if we’re going to get another.”
The Varsity Reds will need to get a big game from the smooth-serving, hard-hitting Rebecca Glancy, who is third in the AUS in kills per set, and is fourth in the league in services aces with 27.
First game: Friday, February 14 @ 7:00pm vs #6 Acadia Axewomen.
#2 Saint Mary’s Huskies (11-5)
The Huskies will breathe a sigh of relief as their second seed earns them a bye into the semifinals.
After dropping their first game in a five-set thriller to Acadia, the Huskies have settled in and look poised to contend for a championship this year to cap off an impressive season. The dynamic duo of Rachel Windhorst and Shelby Michaels rank fourth and sixth in the AUS with 2.79 and 2.62 kills per set, respectively and will look to set the pace offensively for the Huskies.
Although Windhorst and Michaels will need to have big games, head coach Darren Russell explains that every player on his roster will be important, adding that, “Whether on the court or not, each player will have to bring something to help us move forward. Players that have been here in the past will definitely have to use that experience and step up.”
The Huskies were the only team in the AUS to beat the powerhouse Dalhousie Tigers, winning 3-2 back on November 6 on the Tigers home court.
First game: Saturday, February 15 vs winner of quarter-final #2 (Acadia vs UNB) @ 7:00pm
#1 Dalhousie Tigers (12-4)
The Tigers enter the tournament as the perennial favourites, a very hard fact to argue. They’re 12-4 in the season, with their only loss to AUS competition coming against Saint Mary’s in their home opener. They’re on an eight-game winning streak, and they’ve only dropped two sets in that stretch.
The Weert, Netherlands sensation Desiree Nouwen has taken the AUS by storm in her first season, leading the league with 3.31 kills per set. Two-time AUS first team all-star Maggie Li and Nouwen have formed a formidable duo to shape the Tigers high-octane offense, while libero Marisa Mota has been solid defensively with 3.2 digs per set.
“We are excited for the opportunity of playing on our home court, says head coach Rick Scott. “We know there are six very good teams competing for the title. We need to be focused and ready to compete and are looking forward to the challenge.”
The veteran Tigers squad has earned themselves a bye to the semifinals, and will look to be the first defending champions in AUS women’s volleyball since 2007.
First Game: Saturday, February 15 @ 5:00 vs winner of quarter-final #1 (Memorial vs Moncton)
For more information on the tournament including game times, ticket prices and more, check out http://atlanticuniversitysport.com/sports/wvball/2013-14/postseason/index, and you can catch all games live on AUStv.ca.
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