By Kirk Jessome
Led by fifth-year player Mieke DuMont and last season’s AUS all-stars Victoria Haworth and Julie Moore, the Tigers offence was a force to be reckoned with all season long. Moore finished the regular season second in the conference in kills per set and total kills while DuMont was not far behind in fifth in kills per set. Haworth led the entire conference in hitting efficiency.
Coming off being named last year’s AUS MVP, Courtney Baker had yet another standout season as a setter and attacker. With fine passing and crafty attacks at the net, Baker was a key piece to the Tigers success, earning her back-to-back AUS MVP honours.
The Tigers went undefeated through the first half of the year, losing just two sets through those nine matches.
That momentum continued through the month of January, with the team going on a 7-0 run without losing a single set in a match. The run garnered national attention, giving the Tigers their first #1 ranking in the U SPORTS Top 10 in program history.
It was only in two of the final four matches of the season where the Tigers stumbled slightly, dropping matches to Saint Mary’s and UNB.
Head coach Rick Scott attributes his team’s ability to lose so few sets to strong serving, defence and a balanced attack.
“We had a really strong serving team and the girls really bought into defence this season,” he says. “We spent a lot of time on it in practice and they took a lot of pride in serving tough and not letting the ball hit the floor.”
A fantastic 18-2 record gave the Tigers the number one ranking going into the AUS championship tournament where they beat Saint Mary’s 3-0 in the semifinal before topping UNB 3-1 to win their seventh-consecutive championship banner. Baker was named the tournament MVP, while Haworth and DuMont earned championship all-star honours. Baker was also named a U SPORTS first team all-Canadian for the second-straight season, while Julie Moore, who was a member of the U SPORTS all-rookie team last season, was named a second team all-Canadian.
The Tigers headed into the national championship in Alberta as the number five seed and faced Montreal in quarter-final play. They swept the Carabins 3-0 to face UBC in the semifinal round. They battled hard against the eventual national champions, but lost 3-1 to move on to the bronze medal game.
An intense five-set battle ensued between the Tigers and the Alberta Pandas the next day for the bronze medal. Unfortunately it was the Pandas who came out on top, winning 3-2.
“I’m very proud of how we competed at nationals. We played very well against Montreal and we were right there in the semis with UBC too. There was a fine line between winning and losing in our bronze medal match with Alberta. It goes to show how a couple of plays can make all the difference.”
With everyone eligible to return to the lineup next year except DuMont, the team will keep their minds firmly set on bringing home a national medal.