By: Kirk Jessome
It’s hard to imagine improving on a 19-1 record in a conference championship-winning season, but with almost all of their important pieces returning, the Tigers women’s volleyball team will look to do just that this season.
With the return of Mieke DuMont for her fifth and final year, the Tigers have retained all of their major offensive weapons from last season. DuMont has been a key hitter for the Tigers year after year, averaging 155 kills per season, with her previous two being above 180, good enough to finish in the top 6 in the conference all four years.
DuMont finished fourth in total kills in the conference last season, mostly due to the massive number collected by teammate Julie Moore. Moore finished first in the conference in total kills, and sixth in the country with 228. This feat earned her the title of AUS rookie of the year, as well as a spot on the U SPORTS all-rookie team. With output like that in her first season, there’s no telling what Moore can do on the offensive side of the ball for the Tigers this year.
A high-level offensive player is usually only as good as the person who gets them the ball, and in the case of the Tigers, that person is second to none.
Senior Courtney Baker had a breakout season last year after making the move from outside hitter to setter for the Tigers, and it resulted in her finishing at the top of the conference in assists per set, and fourth in the country.
Last year’s AUS MVP and a second team all-Canadian, Baker had a very unique mindset in her game after playing her first two seasons as an outside hitter. She set up her teammates with perfectly placed sets but was also able to pick up kills on her own with sneaky plays on the second touch.
Another year of chemistry building between these three should be fun to watch if you’re a fan of offensive volleyball.
The Tigers have added a few extra pieces since last season, with Vienna Harwood and Sophia King looking to complement the already strong outside hitters on the roster, while Libby Falkenham will do the same with Baker at the setter position.
After being the heavy favourite in the AUS every year with six consecutive conference championship titles, the Tigers have faced a tough challenge when they head to the national championship each season. Despite their best efforts, they haven’t been able to put together the result that they were chasing after, with a fourth-place finish in 2014 being the highlight.
With another year of growth and development in the Tigers young players, and the leadership of veterans like DuMont and Baker, lucky championship number seven is in the Tigers sights and a national medal is calling their name.
The Tigers kick off their season on Saturday when they take on Saint Mary’s, and the Tigers home opener will be a Sunday matinee against Acadia at 1:00pm.