2012 PACWEST Vball All-Stars

February 22nd, 2012

Congratulation to the VIU Mariners that have been named a  PACWEST All-Star !!

1st Team MILO WARREN,  LEE HAMILTON, JACQUELINE DOLEMAN and DANI SMITH

2nd Team NIGEL PROCH and LEANNA GILDERSLEEVE

All- Rookie team : ALYSSA WOLF

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Read more on Milo and his player of the week award in the Comox Valley Record

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The real season starts now for VIU
Mariners enter PacWest championships as the No. 1 seed
 
Josh Aldrich
Daily News

 

The final destination has never been in doubt for the Vancouver Island University Mariners women's volleyball team - as hosts for the national championships, they get a seat at the table - but now it's about how they get there.

The Mariners are off to provincials this weekend at Douglas College in New Westminster as the top seed, and they will be riding in on a high with three Pacific Western Athletic Association all-stars and a top rookie.

In short they want to be on their home floor with one banner already raised.

"It's a reality - it's here," said head coach Shane Hyde. "For so long we've been talking about it but it seemed so distance. Now it's here and the excitement levels are up."

But they also know it will not be easy, despite rolling through the regular season at 22-2 (70: 33).

They suffered one loss each to the second and third seeded teams at the tournament - The University of Fraser Valley Cascades (20-4, 65: 28) and the Capilano University Blues (17-7, 59: 25) - but the team they may be scared of the most is the fourth seeded Columbia Bible College Bearcats (11-12,44: 46) who took them to five sets in three out of the four sets they played against them this season, the fourth match went four sets.

Chances are they will see CBC on Friday after their bye. CBC will play the Camosun Chargers today to open the tournament.

"I've never liked the semifinal game," said Hyde.

"They get a game under their belt where we have to sit there and wait and wait and let the pressure build, then we have to play a team that's on a bit of a roll."

But Hyde is happy with where his team is at, especially offensively.

He isn't content with their work from the service line, but the rest of their game is looking sharp as demonstrated in their sweep of the Chargers this past weekend.

"There's not much more that we can tweak, it's just getting in game mode and being very highly competitive," said fourth year middle Jacqueline Doleman.

Their biggest challenge may be keeping their eyes on the prize.

With a spot in nationals already booked, Hyde has been working hard to let them know the importance of securing the top seed for the tournament.

A provincial gold medal would do that as they have carried the Canadian Colleges Athletic Association No. 1 ranking all year.

It is a target on their back, but one the Mariners accept and use as motivation.

"It's a way of giving our players more confidence," said Doleman.

"We don't ever really walk around with a lot of swagger, we're told to always be classy, but at this point of the year it's time to be more confident . . . everything is on the table. We got here for a reason and it's because of our hard work, so I think we deserve it."

Last year they were one controversial call away from winning the national championship.

It soured an entire season, but it is something they are using as a valuable lesson as they hit the post-season this time around.

"I don't like to say everything happens for a reason, but that was a huge learning point for us - we had tons of chances to take the gold medal even after the bad call," said Doleman. "We've got to focus on the next point and winning, just keep pushing forward, rather than what happened in the past."

They already have had some accolades showered upon them with Doleman and Dani Smith being named PacWest first team all-stars on Wednesday while Leanna Gildersleeve was named to the second team. Meanwhile Alyssa Wolf was named to the all-rookie team.

"It's really exciting because I've been working towards that my whole career," said Doleman. "I'm always looking to improve and get better at the game . . . I think it has been a team movement rather than just individual. I feel like the whole team has brought up a level."

For Gildersleeve, the honour was especially sweet after taking two years off after her second year with the Grant MacEwan University Griffins in Edmonton.

She led the Mariners in kills this season with 2.67 a set, good enough for seventh in the province, and overall points with 3.15 points a set, ninth in the PacWest.

She is excited for her first post-season run with VIU.

"This is one of the reasons I came back, I live for this time of the season," said Gildersleeve. "Everybody is playing the best they can, the teams all want to win and it makes for a nice atmosphere to play in . . . something's on the line, the banner, and that's what I want."