By Jack Longo
After capturing their ninth-consecutive AUS championship last season, the Dalhousie Tigers women’s volleyball team begins the new season with the same expectations in place as always: get better every day, win the AUS championship, and perform well at the U SPORTS championship.
“We have to work hard and be committed to our team’s process and culture,” says head coach Rick Scott. “We want to become a close-knit team, and we want to be a team that really cares and plays for each other. Our goal is to win the AUS championship and medal at Nationals.”
Last season the Tigers roared to another AUS championship, their ninth-straight under Scott, who is entering his fifteenth season with Dalhousie. Scott’s team finished the regular season in third place before ultimately defeating the Saint Mary’s Huskies in the AUS championship final and earning a spot at the U SPORTS championship. At nationals, the Tigers lost their quarter-final matchup to the University of Calgary Dinos, who hosted the tournament, and then lost their consolation semifinal match to Brock University.
Notably missing from last year’s squad are Julie Moore who was named a U SPORTS second team All-Canadian, AUS first team all-star, and team MVP last season, along with fellow AUS all-stars Victoria and Sarah Dawe.
Second-year setter Brett Bolden, who is returning to the Tigers this season, also earned an end-of-season award after she was named to the AUS all-rookie team.
Scott says this year’s team will feature more of a collective leadership structure than last year’s team as the Tigers compensate for the loss of veteran players and look to highlight the strengths of each new leader.
“Brett Boldon is our team captain, and our leadership team is composed of Charlotte Arsenault, Ella Hornby, Kate Fougere, Grace Calnan, Anika Almero, Lucy Glen-Carter, and Rebecca MacDonnell. They all bring different strengths and values as leaders to our team.”
“Each year brings a new season and with it, new players transition in while the older players graduate and move on to start their careers – that’s the way it is. You are sad to see them leave, but it is rewarding to see their growth not only as volleyball players but also as confident and fine young women. You are also excited and energized by the new incoming players who are so enthusiastic and thrilled to be part of the team.”
During the pre-season, Scott says he’s already seen improvements from a number of players in areas like team culture, physical conditioning and tangible volleyball skills.
Exhibition play has also allowed a number of players to stand out and show signs of a breakout season. Scott highlights Calnan, Hornby, Arsenault, Fougere, Talia Vydykhan, and Ali Nadalini as players to watch who are brimming with potential.
“We have a deep team, and a number of veterans and rookies who all have the ability and potential to be impactful,” says Scott.
The Tigers schedule includes 20 regular season games, four against each AUS conference opponent. The season begins Friday, October 28th when they host Saint Mary’s at Dalplex at 7pm and wraps up with a visit to Saint Mary’s on February 18th. Included in the regular season is the AUS League Tournament which takes place November 18-20 and will be hosted by Memorial University.
“We are thrilled to get back on the court and start another season,” says Scott. “We understand that teams will once again be coming after us, but as always we are very motivated and excited for the challenge and opportunity ahead of us.”