Vikings need big second semester
Vikings Volleyball 4: University of Alberta-Augustana Vikings Connor Sinnamon digs an attack by The King's University Eagles in Camrose on Dec. 31. Josh Aldrich/Camrose Canadian
A one-month break from action did little to soften Stephen Leggett's feeling about his team's performance in the first semester of the men's volleyball season.
The University of Alberta-Augustana Vikings' can to this point be classified as a disappointment with a 4-8 () record and sitting in last place in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference North Division standings. What frustrates the head coach is the unrealized potential for them to be much closer securing a playoff spot.
"When you have four guys on the court who are fourth year or third year, you've got to get it done and we just didn't get it done," said Leggett. "I don't know what it is. We're working through things right now and trying to find different line combinations and see here that leadership comes from."
Augustana missed out on the post season last year because of a tie breaker. Now they are looking back at missed opportunities and three teams all two points ahead of them and with two matches in hand. With 10 matches to go, they are far from out of the running, but their room for error has shrivelled to next to nothing.
"I think six (wins) will be close, I think seven will get you into the playoffs," said Leggett. "The nice thing is, the four teams fighting it out for the third and fourth playoff spots all have to play each other, so our destiny is in our own hands."
Getting a win up in Grande Prairie against Keyano College on the Jan. 12 weekend when they re-start their season will go a long way to helping their cause, but getting swept will really only leave one more loss to spare. Keyano entered the break with an 11-1 record and as the sixth ranked team in the country. Leggett expects Keyano to be motivated as the one defeat came at the hands of the Vikings, in straight sets, on Nov. 10 in Camrose.
"We have to be consistent," he said. "We played the first day and every match we were up, up, up in games and we just let other teams in and we can't have that."
He has seen the just how good they can be when they are playing to their potential when they handed the Keyano College Huskies their only loss on the season on Nov. 10, in straight sets, no less. But he has also seen the ugly as they were swept by both The King's University and Grande Prairie Regional College, both teams in the group of three ahead of them.
There is still a lot of potential remaining in this season. Leggett's recruiting class this season has been a stand out with the likes of Connor Sinnamon, Jesse Weber, and Owen Murray all making a major impact already this season, while middles Lyndon Varga and Duncan McDonald have provided experience and stability.
"The biggest thing that I'm noticing now from the younger kids is I'm starting to see them learn a little bit and I'm starting to see them grow and learn from their mistakes," said Leggett.
The Vikings hosted an exhibition tournament this weekend to prepare for the second semester, they lost 3-1 to Medicine Hat College and 4-0 to Lethbridge College on Friday, but beat the NAIT Ooks 3-2 and TKU 3-2 on Sunday. The women, meanwhile, beat Assiniboine Community College 3-2 and lost to Lethbridge College 3-1 on Friday, and beat Assiniboine 3-2 on Saturday.
"The nice thing for us is we had exams right up until Dec. 22 so they didn't have three weeks off to do nothing … and I think we hit the weight room pretty hard before we broke for Christmas so I think that made a difference," said Leggett.
• The Vikings hockey team is back in action this weekend when they host the NAIT Ooks on Friday at 7:30 p.m. and then are in Edmonton on Saturday to play the Ooks at 6 p.m. The Vikings entered the Christmas break tied with Red Deer College for second place with 19 points.