Royals women’s volleyball blast through the first half
By Davie Wong, Sports Editor
Coming into the season, it can’t be said that it was expected that the women’s volleyball would do well. While they have a veteran squad with heavy hitters and experienced playmakers, things were still in flux for the Royals—particularly at their head. With a new head coach comes changes, and Jeff Ross did plenty of that.
Under head coach Jeff Ross, the team learned how to play under a new system. Rather than build on the system left by Kyra Iannone, Ross has implemented his own style, building on the foundations of any sport, and that is the individual skill of every player. In this regard, Ross had plenty to work with. But still, there was some doubt on whether or not the team would be ready to play against PACWEST competition come October 14, their home opener.
Facing off against the CBC Bearcats, the Royals showed everyone just how far they’ve come. A massive 3–0 win followed by a 3–1 win gave the Royals their first series win of the year. They followed that up with a crazy doubleheader against the Capilano Blues where they thrashed them 3–0 at the Blues’ house, then came home and did it again with a 3–1 win.
They travelled to the College of the Rockies in week 3 of PACWEST action, where they finally dropped a game on the season. They went five sets with the COTR squad, but didn’t get the result. They came back the next game, winning it in yet another five grueling sets, taking their revenge and splitting the weekend’s results.
The next week saw them travelling to the University of the Fraser Valley, where they duked it out with the team that knocked them out of the playoffs. It was a heated weekend, no matter which way you look at it. But the Royals managed to snag both games against the Cascades, taking their results in a 3–1 and 3–2 fashion.
In week five, the Camosun Chargers came to town to visit the Royals. Them managed to take a game off the Royals at home, and became the first team to do so. But the ladies came back swinging, and they swung themselves to a 3–0 win after their 3–1 the night before.
To finish off the half, the team took a trip over to visit the VIU Mariners. They rolled the defending CCAA National champions in their first game, taking it 3–1. But the Mariners bounced back, hammering the Royals in an impressive 3–0 win.
The loss put a bit of a damper of the Royals mood going into the break, but they can look to their regular season record with some pride. They sit at second in the PACWEST with a record of 9–3, ahead of third by two games and behind first by a single win.
In terms of players, the Royals have really been the team with the most individual skill. Juliana Penner, the fifth-year captain of the squad, has really been the leader the team turns to to swing games around, and she’s delivered. But in terms of points on the court, she has a ton of support this year. The Royals have multiple scoring threats, and they can all be on the court at the same time. Autumn Davidson has been a staple defensive middle for the Royals, and Georgia Hurry has been able to step in and put the ball down when they need an offensive push. Juliana Penner, Vania Oliveira, and Vicki Schley have been racking up kills on the regular.
Defensively, Schley has been the perfect flex player for the Royals. Having played a libero role before, her positioning defensively has been immaculate, and has really eased the burden on her teammate, Claudia Corneil. That’s not to take away from Corneil, who has been absolutely astounding defensively for the team from her libero role.
In the buildup, Jane Kepler has been fantastic for the team. One of the Royals’ two regular rookies, Kepler has put up some fantastic balls for her swingers to put down, and has been a key to the team’s offensive engine.
You can’t look past this team, as hard as you try. I believe that they are, pound for pound, the best team in the PACWEST. And if Jeff Ross has them playing like this already, it’s going to be scary to see what the team can do come playoffs.