Its uncharted territory for SAIT’s women’s volleyball team, as they go for a medal for the first time since 1988.
With 15 wins, the team fights for first as Briercrest College keeps their lead with 16 wins in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC).
“There are a lot of things in sports that you can’t control, so you just have to keep working hard at it until things work out, and sometimes they do,” said head coach Art O’Dwyer.
For Samantha Carpenter, a fourth year middle on the team, said for her it feels awesome but surreal at the same time, because it’s a feeling that nobody on the team has experienced before.
“I think some of our coaching has a big influence on it, but a lot of it is from experience from players, physically, mentally and technically,” said Carpenter. “We’re all mentally strong this year and we don’t get into the ruts that we usually have in previous years.”
Carpenter described that in previous years the players’ heads just weren’t in the games. They didn’t have the skillset they have this year.
“This year, I can’t even pinpoint a strong point on the team, there’s so many different strengths that each player individually brings,” said Carpenter. “Maybe where some players lack in strengths other players pick up them.”
O’Dwyer said he believes one of the keys to their success is the team has been playing together for three to four years.
“The other thing is they have a really strong work ethic and they get along really well.”
He said he thinks in the ACAC, every team is probably one or two injuries away from catastrophe.
Carpenter said there’s no drama on the team and there’s no bullying, the team is all good friends.
“We’re like a big happy family.
“We spend countless hours together outside of practice and the relationships that we’ve formed within each other is a huge key to any team being successful.”
O’Dwyer said the team has a saying at their practices: “Get one per cent better every day.”
“We want to get better every day.”
For the team, none of them have ever been in this position before, so it’s going to be a challenge come playoffs.
O’Dwyer thinks they can win nationals; there’s no question about that, if they keep stepping up to the challenge.
It’s going to be tough for the Trojans because everybody plays hard.
“I can’t predict what’s going to happen, but I’m very hopeful that we will achieve those goals,” said O’Dwyer.
Carpenter believes if the team can perform at a consistent level they can win nationals.
The first challenge this year is to make it to the playoffs.
The second is to come in the top two of the playoffs and the third challenge is to go to nationals.
“Our first goal is to become top two in the province, and that’s definitely achievable, and from there we go to nationals,” said Carpenter.
“From there, it’s game on.”