A tournament to remember

Rumour has it Vianne was hit in the head with a volleyball at the Championships. 

Rumour has it Vianne was hit in the head with a volleyball at the Championships.

No. 8 seed Cougars look for the upset at Nationals

Article: Brady Lang – Sports Writer

[dropcaps round=”no”]E[/dropcaps]ven though the Cougar ladies weren’t able to bring home gold, they sure put on one hell of a National competition.

After being named the host city for Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) Nationals, the ladies volleyball squad were looking forward to competing in the event that housed the top teams from all across Canada. Even coming into the tournament fresh off of back-to-back losses to Trinity Western in Canada West Final Four, the eighth seeded Cougars had high aspirations for the tournament.

The girls couldn’t beat out the former six-time National Champions, University of British Columbia Thunderbirds, in round one of the tournament. Despite winning the first set against the extremely strong team, Regina went on to lose the next three sets, as UBC’s pace proved difficult to keep up with. As a result, the Cougars were sent into the consolation side where they swept McMaster in three sets, etching their spot in the 5th-place game against Trinity Western.

The Cougars suffered a five-set loss to Trinity Western while fifth-year outside hitter Desiree Ates ended up with a Cougars record 28 kills in her final game with the squad. Ates said not all was lost after they dropped the game against Trinity Western.

“The leadership we’ve had this year has been instilled in the girls and it’s something that’s very important to us,” Ates said. “Our work ethic has been extremely good all year and we made sure to have that as a legacy of the team and we’ve done a great job of working hard and practicing hard all season.”

This was Ates’ final game as a Cougar, as she has now played out her five years of eligibility in the University ranks, which included time spent at both Pasco-Hernando Community College and the University of New Hampshire, before joining the Cougars in 2012. After a bitter-sweet exit, the veteran believes ending her playing career with this squad was the way she wanted to go out.

“Ending it with the girls that I’ve been so lucky to play with this season was so special,” said the Regina product. “We’ve been looking forward to this all season and have had the countdown to nationals up in our room, seeing that countdown hit zero was amazing. Our team chemistry this season was great and [this tournament] watching other teams from other conferences compete was a great thing to see.”

Being in front of a hometown crowd made the exit for Ates all that more special, something she’ll be able to remember for a very long time.

“It’s hard to describe. Going back to high school and you’ve had that home crowd and comparing it to your home crowd at the university level is something you can’t put into words,” said the nursing student.  “The amount of support we’ve felt from the community this weekend and even club teams coming out, old coaches and all the friends, it’s great to see all of the smiling faces in the crowd. Knowing everyone wants you to do great this weekend was really special and hard to put into words.”

Ates won’t be going far next season. She hopes to be in the stands cheering on the girls for the next years to come. Her final words for the girls she’ll be leaving were simply to do the best they can and to wish them good luck.

While the tournament was over for the Cougars, the Manitoba Bisons and power-house University of British Colombia met in the final to decide the 2013-14 national champions.

I liked volleyball before people were mean.

I liked volleyball before people were mean.

The No. 2 seed Manitoba Bisons shockingly upset the first seed UBC Thunderbirds in straight sets to take the tournament and the banner as National Champions. As the celebration ensued, third-year Emily Erickson was on top of the world.

“It hasn’t even fully sunk in and I can’t wait until it fully sinks in,” said the Winnipeg native. “It’s been a goal we’ve been training towards for the last eight months and its absolutely amazing being able to reach the goal after all of our hard work.

“We have to do the same hard training we’ve been doing for the past eight months,” Erickson said, when asked what was needed to get back to this point next season. “We have to do it all over again [next year]. We’re going to build off this and it would be even sweeter to win two championships in a row. We need to remember this feeling and how good it feels to be here in this moment right now.”

Erickson noted how happy she was able to win the championship with the girls she did and how proud she was of her tightly knit crew in Manitoba. With a large majority of her team being third-years, the core will defend the championship in 2014-15.

“It will help us so much [being all of the same age]; each day we spend together we just get that much closer, it’s knowing each other so well [being so close as a team],” she said. “We’ve all said that there is nobody else we’d rather share this with, we love each other and cannot wait to defend the title next year.”

Congratulations to the Bisons and a big thanks to all of the organizers and volunteers that made this great event happen this weekend in Regina.

[button style=”e.g. solid, border” size=”e.g. small, medium, big” link=”” target=””]Image: Arthur Ward[/button]

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