Women’s volleyball finally seeing some success
After two straight seasons of nothing but losses, 44 in total, the WolfPack women’s volleyball team is playing a season they can brag about.
The ‘Pack has won six and lost six since the season opened on Oct. 10. They received an honourable mention in the Canada West top 10 rankings for their progress.
“It feels damn good,” said Morgan Kolasa, who is in her second year of eligibility with the ‘Pack.
“It’s amazing. It doesn’t even feel like the same team anymore. The whole atmosphere is completely different,” said Julia Niemczewska, who is in her third year of eligibility.
Kolasa and Niemczewska said that beating Brandon University in three sets on Nov. 8 was an accomplishment, since Brandon at the time was undefeated and ranked first in the Canada West league.
Iuliia Pakhomenko contributed substantially to the win over Brandon. During the game Pakhomenko set a Canada West record when she got 26 kills out of 44 chances in three sets. Getting 26 kills was a personal record for Pakhomenko as well, which she attributed to working hard. Pakhomenko is currently averaging 4.58 kills per set, which is the highest in the league. She has been named Canada West Athlete of the Week twice, receiving first star and second star status.
Pakhomenko was recruited from Northwood University by head coach Chad Grimm.
“She’s been outstanding for us, not only producing on the court but competing in practice and giving our group some confidence with a person that we know is going to put the ball away when the score is close,” Grimm said. “The girls seem happy to be at the gym and when they start to get a little bit of success I think that breeds some confidence.”
Grimm believes a positive atmosphere and some new faces on the team has contributed to the turn-around, while Kolasa and Niemczewska agree that the new coaching staff is the main contributor.
Grimm, who took over at the end of last season when the previous head coach Keith Lundgren was released, brought in Nathan Bennett, Robbyn Dalin and Sara Petterson to be assistant coaches. Kolasa and Niemczewska said that having the extra hands and eyes at practice has helped individual players to improve.
Grimm said there are a number of players doing well this season.
“Both Brianne [Rauch] and Alyssa [Wolf] have brought some good leadership to our team and done well as far as passing the ball and bringing us some stability in the back court,” Grimm said. “Kaitlin Lomas had an outstanding weekend [on Nov. 7 and 8]. She was good both offensively and at blocking. Kara Twomey has done a good job coming back after a couple years off and running her offense at the centre position.”
The WolfPack, which is currently ranked as sixth out of the 13 Canada West teams, will play 12 more games before the season ends. To qualify for the playoffs, the ‘Pack must remain in the top seven teams.