Photos by Kyle West
After a slow start to the season, the women’s volleyball team is rolling and looking to lock up a spot in the playoffs. Their slow start can be attributed to the major shift in the roster, with many upper-year players graduating, but the newer players are filling in admirably and the roster is loaded with potential.
They’ve won four out of their last five games, which is in large part due to a few players stepping up their play. Most notably, right side Jessie Nairn’s recent play earned her the Pita Pit Athlete of the Week for leading the team in points and kills over their weekend trip to Thunder Bay.
Stuffing the stat sheet in all facets of the game, Nairn’s 13 kills in the team’s Jan. 27 win over Lakehead University is a perfect example of what she brings to the rotation.
The Marauders are back on track as they are riding a string of good games, with their only loss in the past five games coming from the undefeated and first in the division University of Waterloo Warriors.
“Even though we lost against Waterloo, we played a really good game against them,” Nairn said. “And if we play the way we did, we can definitely beat, if not at least play a really good game against, all of the teams coming up in the next couple of weeks.”
Nairn says the team is still in the process of finding its identity after losing so many of its veteran players. However, their development over the course of the season thus far is why they’ve been on a hot streak lately, which should easily transfer to next season.
“After losing a really big graduating class last year, I’d say that our skills aren’t really spread out yet and we haven’t found out what our strengths are, so we’re slowly starting to get to that point,” Nairn said. “Although we’re a really big blocking team and we’re definitely one of the best blocking teams in the league, we’re definitely a big offensive team. Where we struggle is starting the offence, so passing and stuff like that, but when we have that done, it’s when we’re at our best.”.
It’s been a tough transition going from losing only five regular season games over the past two seasons to having lost six already this season, but Nairn is confident the team can close out the season successfully.
The roster is filled with talent and potential but is lacking experience. With that being said, it hasn’t stopped the team from remaining in playoff contention despite the roster’s youthfulness.
“In the past years, we’ve only lost two or three games. So for my first two years, it was a big deal losing,” Nairn said on the team’s recent struggles. “Learning to lose, and then learning to learn from that, knowing that it’s going to be ok and that we are good enough to win and win the whole league — we just need to have the mentality to get there because we don’t know how to deal with losing yet, but we’re getting there.”
Nairn believes the team still has the capability of going far in the postseason and they still have their sights set on a trip to nationals.
“Our goal is definitely still to win, even though our path to get there is looking a little rocky,” Nairn said. “We’ve played really good games against some of the teams that are definitely going to be in the final four this year. For instance, our very first game this season where we were nowhere near as good as we are now, we went to five sets with [the University of] Toronto and they’re looking like a team that will definitely be in the final four.”
The women’s volleyball team has had it’s fair share of struggles so far this season but they are a bright young team, with a roster full of talented players and greatness on the horizon.