Looking at the Royals women volleyball’s criminally under-rated season
By Davie Wong, Sports Editor
The Douglas College women’s volleyball team had a hell of a season. With a 17–7 season record, they had their best regular season record in more than the last 10 years. Perhaps even ever. It was a tough loss to the VIU Mariners in the PACWEST Provincial Championships that would eventually end their run, but the Royals have some pretty great highlights to look at this year.
While every win was satisfying in its own right, none was more satisfying than the 3–0 spanking the team delivered to the VIU Mariners in February. As a program that has always had one up on the Royals, for them to not only take a game against them, but to do it in 3–0 fashion, felt satisfy to watch. I’m sure it felt even more satisfying to the players.
Speaking of players, someone is going to need to call the cops, because the Royals got robbed when it came to individual awards. Let’s talk about the ones that they did get. First-Team All-Star for Juliana Penner, who was ranked third in average kills per set, second in the league for total kills, eighth for average aces per set, and first in terms of total offence per set. Looking at the Megan Rosenlund from VIU, the named Player of the Year, you can see there was clearly a crime perpetrated there. Not to take anything away from Rosenlund, as she had the highest average kills per set, but that’s really it. She finished fourth in total amount of offence generated per set, but still had numbers lower or slightly above average of the top 10. I may be a bit biased, but stats don’t lie. Juliana Penner was pound-for-pound better than Rosenlund, and got robbed for Player of the Year. But nonetheless, moving on.
Wait, I can’t. Because no other Royals got an All-Star nod. I’m not joking. Not even a second All-Star look. Here are just a couple players who I think should have gotten a nod, and were, for some reason, overlooked. Claudia Corneil, First-Team All-Star for sure, if not Second-Team. Claudia carried the Royals defensively. To the point where teams would even swing in her direction. They’d rather risk losing the point than swinging it into the swift libero who’s playing way out of her age expectation. She finished third in average digs per set, and played in nearly every set for the Royals. She’d be my most under-rated player.
Georgia Hurry, First-Team All-Star, if not Second-Team. Georgia was a wall for the Royals yet again this season. She finished second in average blocks per set, fifth in average aces per set, and 14th for average total amount of offence per set. She was really the best all-around player for the Royals, and able to really do it all. And she got overlooked for even a Second-Team All-Star nod? Someone get the vote counter a coffee; he may have miscounted.
Moving on to the rookies—finally, an award I agree with. Vania Oliveira, rookie team All-Star. Plain and simple. She provided that extra offensive push the Royals needed this year, and will be the most likely candidate to fill Juliana Penner’s role as the primary left-side hitter. However, here’s one I don’t agree with: Jane Kepler, all rookie All-Star. Not because she didn’t deserve it, but because she deserved so much more.
Jane finished the year in seventh for average aces per set, and was so much more to the team than she was credited for. The rookie Kepler came into a brand new offence, and ran the show. By the end of the season, she was passing bombs left and right, and was the key to any aspect of the Royals offensive power. And don’t let her get on a run serving, because she will gut a team with just her serve alone. Not to take anything away from the PACWEST Rookie of the Year, Megan Ireland though. I just think Kepler was by far the better player, and she showed it at the Provincial championships. Someone’s going to have to call the feds; this feels like more than just your average robbery.
Even though the Royals came a bit short of their National bid, they only finished short by chance. Camosun College hosted the National Championship, and had they not, the PACWEST would have gotten the wildcard for sure. Would the Royals have done any better at the National Championships? It’s hard to tell. But it doesn’t really matter, does it. Now the team is looking towards the next season. PACWEST silver tasted bitter, but I’ve been told that PACWEST gold is the sweetest thing you could even get your hands on. Here’s looking to it.