While coaches may be loathe to put much stock into pre-season rankings, there is no hiding for the Trinity Western Spartans.
The women’s volleyball team opens the Canada West regular season this weekend as the top-ranked team in the country.
The Spartans earned the No. 1 designation after knocking off the top-ranked UBC Thunderbirds on the weekend at the West Coast Classic, on their way to a 4-0 record at the tournament.
The team returns five of their seven starters from last season’s squad, which finished fifth at the CIS national championships.
The previous season, the core of that squad had won bronze at nationals, the first medal for the Spartan women’s program.
Returning from last year’s starting unit are middles Nicole Bazin and Alicia Perrin, outsides Amy Ott and Royal Richardson, and setter-turned-hitter-turned-setter Kelci French. And with French moving back to her natural setting position, the Spartans will have one of the best in the country running the floor.
Add to that the fact the Spartans have seven other returning players, including the likes of Carly Hamilton, Amber Brown, Casie Gano and Chelsea Wand, and the Spartans not only have a strong starting group but also a deep bench.
The Spartans are also expecting incoming recruits libero Kristen Moncks, who comes to Langley after a record-setting season with Medicine Hat of the ACAC (Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference) in which she averaged 5.2 digs per set, and outside Sophie Carpentier to make an immediate impact.
Last year, the Spartans allowed the opposition just a .134 hitting percentage (second in the conference) while averaging 2.50 blocks per set (second) and 1.84 service aces per set (third) and with an even better lineup on the floor this year, it’s likely those numbers will be improved and, with that, the Spartans are hoping so too will their year-end result.
Like their male counterparts, the TWU women represented Canada at the U23 Pan American Cup, which was held in Cuba.
The Spartans finished sixth at the event with a 2-4 record. Altogether in the pre-season, the squad was 6-4.
Trinity Western begins the Canada West regular seasons with home-and-home series against the UBC Thunderbirds.
The teams play in Vancouver on Oct. 26 and return to the Langley Events Centre on Saturday night at 5 p.m.