Royals women’s volleyball flying high at midseason
By Davie Wong, Sports Editor
As the volleyball season comes to its Christmas break, the Royals women’s volleyball team find themselves sitting at the top of the PACWEST, and consequently, the top of the West. The team is ranked second in the CCAA, an achievement of monumental significance for a program that hadn’t won a playoff game in years. Much like their position in the PACWEST, the Royals share the spotlight with their rivals, the VIU Mariners, who sit one spot below them at third.
Both teams have 10-2 records in the PACWEST, good enough to tie for first. However, the Royals have the edge according to PACWEST sorting rules, and will enter the break in the first place position. Having played the first of two round-robins in league plays, the Royals can be confident in their ability.
They’ve beaten every team in the league at least once, so no team is undefeatable for them. They’ve only lost to the Capilano Blues, and the VIU Mariners. The Blues loss was at the beginning of the season, away from home, which is understandable. Losing is a vital part of the learning process. The other team the Royals lost to is the Mariners in a game that saw an epic five-set series on home court that could have gone either way.
But it’s not just the wins that matter. It’s the way you win, and the Royals have shown time and time again that they are just ahead of the rest of their opponents. The team has an impressive set record of 32-16. More often than not, the Royals take the match with a convincing 3-1 score. This has much to do with head coach Jeff Ross’ willingness to experiment and give chances in his lineup. However, when work needs to be done, Ross has shown that he knows who to send onto the court.
The Royals heavy-swinging offence has gotten the job done so far, and it shows on the boards. Three of the top five kill leaders are Royals. Caet McCorkell has taken the PACWEST by storm. The Royals rookie is third in the league for kills, punching in 156 at the split. She’s also the most consistent, ranking third in the PACWEST for kills per set with 3.32 kills. Her hitting percentage of .261 makes her the fifth most efficient hitter in the league as well.
Vicki Schley has a solid 120 kills, which is good enough for fourth in the league. Vania Oliveira has looked good in her sophomore year on the court, and her numbers show it. With 111 kills, fifth most in the PACWEST, Vania has definitely swung less this year. But she’s swung smarter, picking of a hitting percentage of .300, third best in the PACWEST.
Defensively, Claudia Corneil has been a rock for the Royals, and the best libero in the PACWEST. Her 187 digs is the PACWEST’s best, and her 3.90 digs per set is the second highest. On the frontline, Kendra Potskin and Olivia Cesaretti has been fighting the good fight. Potskin’s 27 blocks is the fourth highest, but her 0.64 blocks per set has her as the second most consistent blocker. Olivia Cesaretti has been a standout this year in the middle position. Her 28 blocks has her tied for second most in the PACWEST, and her 0.58 blocks per set is fourth best in the league.
In terms of setters, the Royals have played with two this season. Abby Mitro has seen more time on the court than last year, but Jane Kepler remains the Royals go-to setter. Her 284 assists, and 6.93 assists per set have her planted firmly as fourth best in the PACWEST.
Overall, impressive statistics from the Royals tells us that they are a team that can do it all. As they head into the midseason break, the focus will likely be on building upon the foundation they have from their excellent start. It’s likely as the season goes on, we’ll see Jeff Ross begin narrowing the roster and having the team play cleaner, smarter, and stronger volleyball. If this is just a preview, it’ll be frightening to see what the team can be like if they get into end-of-season form. Look forward to this Royals squad making a deep run this year.