The NAIT Ooks women’s volleyball team had a season filled with highs and lows. Despite the early exit in the ACAC Championship playoffs, the Ooks have learned who they are going into next season.
The Ooks were the first team to beat the unbeaten. Reigning ACAC champions and No. 1 ranked team in the nation, the Lakeland Rustlers, were beaten by the Ooks three sets to one at home in front of a raucous crowd. This regular season was a high point for the Ooks going into the playoffs
That win proved that NAIT has what it takes to contend for a championship. It gave the team confidence they needed to realize they were good enough to win.
Along with the team growth, the Ooks had some individual growth, too. Hannah Gorgichuk led the Ooks in sets played with 88, kills with 228 and total points with 273. Karly Kupka was second on the team in all of those categories with 87 sets played, 205 kills and 263 total points. The emergence of both these outside hitters has given the Ooks a one-two combo to rely on.
Some of the Ooks’ low points this season have come from careless mistakes. They were second in the ACAC in both service errors with 216 and in block errors with 38. These errors only magnify when the team wasn’t able to close out sets and games.
That was made clear during this year’s playoffs. Their first game was against Red Deer. The Ooks were up 20-13 at one point during the first set, but were not able to close it out, losing 23-25. They ended up losing three straight sets.
In their second playoff game against Ambrose University, the Ooks were up two sets to one but then lost the fourth set 25-15 and the fifth set 15-9.
Both those games have taught the Ooks something they need to improve on for next year – closing games.
Next season, the Ooks will have one more year of maturity under their belt. The players will have grown physically and mentally. The team more importantly has grown as a unit, a team.
This season had high and low points for the Ooks. Yet, this season was a learning curve so they can come back bigger and better next season.
– Peter Go