Women’s volleyball loses to VIU
By Eric Wilkins, Sports Editor
The women’s volleyball team suffered a tough defeat against the Vancouver Island University (VIU) Mariners on November 22, losing in straight sets 3-0. With the Mariners having only lost nine sets all year, some could excuse the rout, but no Royal was fine with that attitude.
“Not at all,” said first year Madison Burt, when asked if the loss was an easy one to take. “We had a couple players that came out to compete, but I don’t feel like the whole team showed up today. We can definitely compete with them though. We had doubts going in because we knew they didn’t lose a lot, but tomorrow we’re going to be ready to go,” said first year Madison Burt.
Fourth year Avneet Shokar agreed, “I think we could’ve beat them. We were just mentally not there today. Tomorrow we get a second chance at it so I hope we do better. We shouldn’t let that [VIU’s impressive season] get to us really, we should just worry about what’s happening on our side of the court. I just want to forget about it and move on to tomorrow.”
The Royals were competitive for most of the first set, keeping the score relatively close until the Mariners broke away on a six point run at 19-15 to take it 25-15. In the second set the hosts showed some life after falling into a seven-point hole; following a timeout, the Royals clawed back to within one point at 15-14 with Kelsi Taron supplying an ace and Shokar with a huge block, but that was as close as they would get—ultimately losing 25-17. The Royals never had a chance in the final as VIU sported leads of 7-1 and 20-10 at various points before finishing the game 25-14.
“I think it’s always a great opportunity to play the best, or one of the best teams in Canada, and it’s better than any training that we’re going to get,” commented coach Kyra Iannone. “I think there were two of our players that came into their own tonight and just decided to put their youth and inexperience aside and really become go-to people for the team. That’s huge. Toni [Antonia Vandenbrink] is a first-year player and she played outstandingly tonight. She played like she was in fourth- or fifth-year.”
Iannone spoke to how the break will be good for the team. “There’s a lot of young girls on the team; I think seeing their families and going home and being around that support system is going to be big for people. A little bit of rest too. They’re going to come back rejuvenated and I think they’re going to appreciate their team more and be a tighter team in January.”
She continued, “The new girls are really stepping into their roles and our team is really close. I’m pretty proud of where we’re at and what they’re doing.”
Burt and Shokar’s comments reflected their coach’s feelings about the break, both citing the mental game as an area of improvement.
“We just need to work on our confidence. We’re playing against fifth years and fourth years—girls that have been in the league way longer than we have,” said Burt.
Shokar added, “Mental. I think that we have all the skill that we need. We’re all big, strong girls. It’s not like we don’t have the skill. We have a lot of newer girls on the team this year so a lot of it is mental for us. Once we figure that out I think we’ll do amazing things.”
The group heads into the break with a 4-8 record and will resume in January.