Alyssa Wolf showed why she is one the biggest weapons in Pacific Western Athletic Associations women's volleyball on the weekend.
The Vancouver Island University Mariners junior power tied a program record for aces in a single match in their 3-0 (25-12, 25-17, 25-11) win over the College of the Rockies on Saturday, and then came within one ace of repeating the feat in their 3-0 (25-15, 25-21, 25-20) win on Sunday morning.
"It might have just been home gym and being comfortable where I am," said Wolf. "I'm here (practicing) Monday through Friday, so it's just comfortable." Her 10 aces on Saturday, tied the mark originally set by former Mariners star Danielle Gaudet in 1999, and a record she tied last year in Cranbrook against COTR. She was just as deadly on Sunday, getting nine serves to fall in. She also added five digs and five kills in the second match.
She was the brightest spot for the Mariners over the weekend.
All-Canadian power Leanna Gildersleeve had a big game on Sunday, finishing with 10 kills, two digs and five aces of her own, and on Mychaela Roelants had three digs and four aces.
Despite not dropping a set to the Avalanche, head coach Shane Hyde was not happy with their performance, particularly on Sunday.
"We didn't play well, it was a sub-par performance," said Hyde. "College of the Rockies is a team in the bottom of our conference and the girls played to their level. We're pretty disappointed about it."
Still, there are worse positions to be in. The Mariners have dropped just one set in four matches in the first two weeks of the PacWest season.
They are once again loaded for another run at a provincial championship and a berth in the Canadian Colleges Athletic Association. It's just a matter of getting all of the pieces working together at the same time.
"I like the new energy that's on the team," said Wolf. "We've got some young rookies and a transfer and they have real good attitudes. It's refreshing. I think with the vets, they want to redeem themselves for not making nationals last year."
Up next for VIU is a trip to Capilano University on Friday and Saturday for two matches with the Blues.
The VIU Mariners men's volleyball team has gone to five sets three times in their first four matches and have only won one of them.
This weekend, it they lost both of their five-set matches to COTR at VIU.
The Avalanche won 3-2 (25-12, 25-22, 19-25, 23-25, 19-17) on Saturday and then 3-2 (25-23, 21-25, 10-25, 25-20, 15-13) on Sunday.
Sunday's was particularly frustrating. They were in control, up 2-1 after three sets, and let the Avs back in, dropping a poorly played fourth set. In the fifth, they found themselves down 8-3, but battled back to tie the set at 13-13, but could not close the deal. The loss was compounded by the five-set defeat the night before.
"Two nights in a row, five setters, they always break your heart," said Mariners head coach Abe Avender. "You'd like to win one, especially at home."
The Mariners went from looking like world-beaters in one set to looking completely out of synch in the next set.
Avender says is a product of having such a young lineup, but it is a problem they are going to have to rectify and soon.
"I don't know what it is," he said. "It's a timing thing, it's a mentality thing. When we're up, everyone can hit better than anyone in the country, but when we're down, we're scared, we're tipping and we're off-speeding shots; that's not how these guys play. The battles that we have in practice, we would have done great this weekend, but it's disappointing in a match that you've trained for all week, you don't bring out your best."
Sophomore middle Zach Grigg was the best Mariner on the floor on Sunday.
"He's great back there with that serve," said Avender. "He's a gamer, he's one of the ones who will step up and want the ball in crunch time."
The men are also at Capilano University next weekend.
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