With a sweep of the University of Saskatchewan at home under their belts, the Golden Bears volleyball squad is set to travel to UBC to continue their strong start to the season.
After spending their entire preseason on the road, playing at the U of A’s Saville Centre was something of a new experience for the team. Coming away from the games with two wins to start the season was a big step for the Bears as they aim to return to nationals this season.
But head coach Terry Danyluk still noticed the Bears’ play wasn’t perfect. Home court advantage or not, the team still showed nerves and jitters at different points on the weekend.
“Guys were typically hesitant the first night and then got more solidified as the weekend went on,” Danyluk said. “The second match, I thought we came out with better focus and let it slip a bit in the third set. But overall, the areas of the game that we’ve been working on we showed improvement in, and that’s the biggest thing for me.”
For their efforts, Alberta remained the first-ranked team by CIS for the second week in a row. Heading into the season’s first weekend, Alberta rose from the second to top spot, and their pair of wins over Saskatchewan maintained their position.
“I don’t think it puts pressure on the team; I think it shows respect from other coaches in what they’re saying about our program and what our guys are capable of,” Danyluk said. “It’s early in the season, and not all the teams have played each other, so while rankings are nice for the media, all the stuff that’s the real truth will wash out in the end.
“We have a very competitive team and one that’s capable of doing some great things.”
Alberta will attempt to continue their strong start with two games against the seventh-ranked UBC Thunderbirds. And besides the T-Birds’ seventh-place ranking being just one spot higher than Saskatchewan’s, Danyluk notices a number of other similarities between the two opponents for the Bears. But these similarities won’t change the way his team approaches their games.
“Every team’s a little bit different. The similarities are they both play defence well, they both hustle, they’re both aggressive — styles of their coaches are usually a sign of that. They have more similarities than differences,” Danyluk said.
“In my philosophy, most of our preparation is trying to solidify what we do before we get too over-consumed with our opponents. We know a little bit about them, but we have to make sure what we do, we do well. Primarily, that’s my focus every week.”
The Bears will play both games at UBC’s home of War Memorial Gym in Vancouver. The Friday night game starts at 8 p.m., while Saturday’s match starts at 7 p.m. Both games can be watched live on canadawest.tv.
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