by Macalan B-J
The weekend of October 13th marked the beginning of both our volleyball and basketball seasons. As the gym announcer for both sports, I got to watch the home openers in great detail. Let’s start with volleyball.
Our men’s and women’s volleyball teams both lost their games 3 sets to 0. It was utterly disappointing given all the effort they put out. NAIT is a tough team to play, and I was impressed at the level of competition of both games. Although neither team won a single set, it was not a blowout by any means. Our Thunder were in almost every set; however, a few awful rotations caused great trouble for both our men and women. Our men, especially, had very competitive set, looking like they could have taken NAIT down a peg if it weren’t for a few crucial serve receives that caused a few 5-0 runs for the serving NAIT team. As for our women, I feel like the long, epic rallies that didn’t go their way got to them and brought them down. In volleyball, you need to have a short memory and be able to move past the highs and lows of each point and focus on the next serve. This is something that is easy to preach but hard to practice; hopefully our Thunder women can learn from their mistakes and focus on the goal ahead and not what happened before. All in all, it was very competitive volleyball, and I hope to see you all in the Ralph King Athletics Center at 6pm on November 4th to support our Thunder in their next game against Lakeland.
As far as the opening weekend on the basketball side of things is concerned, both teams left the home team at home with NAIT winning one of two games. Our men beat NAIT on the road and then lost a close game here at Concordia on Saturday. Our women, on the other hand, lost to NAIT on the road and then won here in our home gym.
The women played first, so we will start with them. Great ball moving by guard Morgan Dool on offence and all-around good defencive coverage by the whole team. There were a few lapses in concentration, but nothing too detrimental to the team. Overall, the team kept their composure during what was a chippy first half. Lacey Weddle had some temper issues but kept them in check for what was a dominant third quarter.
Coach Robbie Valpreda had this statement after the first win here on home court on saturday the 14th: “Getting the win during the first home game of the season is very important. We definitely needed to get that monkey off our back. I thought last night we were in it; obviously NAIT is a tough team to play, but this new team we have was up to the challenge. NAIT was 23-1 last year; they are a well-coached team. I thought we played really well both games and got the adversity. It builds character for our team to be challenged and be faced with the adversity. This was a gritty win, but that is how it will be all year. At the collegiate level, teams change from year to year, and that can be tough. We have seven girls back from last year’s team and the rest are new faces. Everybody has a different role this year. We lost our two leading scorers from last year, so we don’t have the same fire power from individuals. So everyone has to and has been contributing in one way or another, either on offence or defence. Having the scoring evenly distributed rather than a few stars makes us more dangerous as a team. If everybody can step up, it will be harder for teams to guard against our offence. Defence is something we need to always work on. We rebounded better today, but we need to work on our rotations. We got to be tough on defence. Offence is easy: pass, move, cut, shoot the ball. Defence is a little bit harder and more mentally tough. So I’ll be preaching defence for next week against Augustana. We will enjoy today as we should but get back to work tomorrow.
The men had the lead for most of the third quarter but let it get away from them in the fourth and lost. Twenty-two year old Chad Oviatt saw a lot of court and his coach had this to say about his performance: “Chad Oviatt brings more maturity than a normal first year because of his age (22). Chad hasn’t played for three years, so he has to shake off some rust; every now and then he is going to make mistakes, but the hustle and the effort is always there with Chad.”
Keaton Souster won player of the game honours, but it was TrayVon Lackey that put down over 20 points in the loss.
“It’s all because of my teammates” said Lackey. “They help me get open and kept me pushing me to make those shots. All the credit goes to my teammates.”
This humble response from TrayVon is the exact personality you want your star player to have. Coach Wood Gave this statement after the loss:
“It is early in the year and there are a lot of things that we are trying to get better at. There were a few breakdowns in key times during the fourth quarter that cost us. A lot of fouls called against us today, but we play aggressive so we know that that is going to happen. NAIT made fewer mistakes than us in the fourth quarter and that is what won them the game. This league is always tough; the schedule seems to always be us vs. NAIT first week of the season and we have perennially been the top two teams in the division, so having a split is not uncommon and really likely with our shared talents. It is always a battle with NAIT–we love the rivalry. We will see them again in January and hopefully get both, and I’m sure they feel the same way. Our team is really gelling together like a family, and I didn’t make that happen or tell them to do that–it was on their own accord, so it’s good to see that they will be all-in for the whole year. We have as much talent as any other team in the division. Our expectation is to win every time we step on the court. I know there are 14 teams with the same mentality, so every game will be tough, but that’s why I live doing this. I love to compete.”
Keep the Thunder pride going Concordia, and please Head over to the Ralph King Athletics Center this Friday and Saturday at 6pm to watch the volleyball and basketball teams play respectively. Keep up with your CUE athletics, and go Thunder!