The University of Regina women’s volleyball team’s star sophomore is back in the lineup, but even with the help of middle blocker Michelle Sweeting, the season appears to be in the books.
The Cougars currently sit 10th out of a possible 11 in the Canada West standings. With only the top seven teams advancing to the playoffs, and just two games left to play this season, it appears their season will be cut short.
However, after suffering an ankle injury during the off-season, Sweeting is just happy to finally be back on the court, putting up points for her teammates instead of cheering them on from the sidelines.
“It feels good to be back,” she said. “Like any athlete would say.”
Although Sweeting was as much of a leader from the bench as she is on the court, to be able to physically see her production and improvement is something she won’t take for granted.
“With the injury, my main goal was to try and get back to where I ended off last year,” Sweeting said. “The injury gave me a setback. Besides the injury, I wanted to improve as a player in my all around performance.”
Sweeting was thankful that her ankle was strong enough to allow her to take part in practices with members of the team from Japan’s University of Tsukuba, who shared the court with the Cougars in early January.
“The experience was unreal, scrimmaging against the Japan team,” Sweeting said. “It’s great to see their work ethic, and I think we can take a lot away from that team.”
While Sweeting and the rest of the Cougars had intentions of finishing off the season in a strong fashion and making a push for the playoffs, a post-season berth just isn’t in the cards for the team this year.
Although they may not be in playoff contention, the Cougars can still have a large impact on the playoffs. The team took that mentality into its bout last weekend with the Alberta Golden Bears, the No. 4-ranked team in the country.
The Cougars were off to a great start against the Golden Bears and managed to quickly find themselves ahead two sets to none (25-19, 25-21) against the supposedly powerhouse volleyball team to the west. While just one more set victory would clinch a win for the Cougars, the No. 2-ranked team in Canada West was not about to roll over and hand Regina a victory in their own den.
The Golden Bears managed to rally together and score a 25-15 third set victory against the visitors thanks to strong play from rookie Alena Omelchenko, who hails from Kazakhstan.
Unfortunately, the fourth set was more of the same as Omelchenko registered kill after kill to put the Cougars away 25-18. With the match tied at two sets apiece, a tiebreaker was needed.
The Cougars were unable to get their feet under them in the fifth as Alberta went on to steal the set and the game by a score of 15-6.
Omelchenko finished off the match with 17 kills, while Sweeting and Meagan Onstad both finished with 11 for Regina.
The Cougars came out ready to fight on Night 2, but Alberta managed to switch into an extra gear that Regina did not have. The Cougars once again took the first set 25-15, but went on to lose three straight sets 16-25, 16-25, and 21-25.
The Cougars season will come to a close this weekend against the Calgary Dinos (10-8). It will be a special night for Onstad, Solveig Nilson, Tiffany Herman, and Rebecca Rink, who will play their last game in a Cougars uniform.
Game time is slated for 6:15 p.m. on Friday and 8:00 p.m. on Saturday at the Centre for Kinesiology, Health and Sport.