Preseason action a boon for Avalanche

Both volleyball teams gain valuable experience against tough opponents in home tournament.

Members of Augustana Vikings attempt to block a hit from the College of the Rockies Avalanche during a game at the Rumble in the Rockies tournament over the weekend at the Cranbrook campus.

The Rumble in the Rockies volleyball tournament concluded with a whimper for some and a bang for others.

The College of the Rockies women’s avalanche team had a successful weekend, winning three of four scheduled matches, while the men’s team were blanked by two CIS teams and dropped two decisions against Red Deer College.

The women downed Augustana in straight sets on Thursday, and powered to a 3-1 win over Lethbridge College Friday morning. The ladies engineered a come-from-behind rally in a tiebreak set to edge King’s University-College out of Edmonton, but fell 3-0 in a rematch on the final day of the tournament.

The ladies team is building on their exhibition experience, as they returned from a preseason tournament in Red Deer two weekends ago, where they earned a win and four losses.

It was the first exhibition for the men, against a few CIS-level teams to boot, but head coach Steve Kamps said he isn’t too concerned with the scores because he’s still evaluating players and team strengths and weaknesses.

Agata Benkowska, who coaches the women’s team, said her squad has grown leaps and bounds from last year and looked sharper than their outing to Red Deer two weeks prior.

“After Red Deer, we worked on passing, serving, communication and teamwork—stuff like that is what we worked on all last week before this tournament,” said Benkowska.

That work translated into an emphatic win over Augustana in the opening match of the event on Thursday night.

“We passed well, we served really tough, hitters hit well, everybody was playing unbelievably,” Bendkowska added.

Bendkowska hopes the three consecutive wins adds some confidence to her team as they begin to shift into regular-season play in three weeks.

“I’m very happy, I’m satisfied with how they played,” Bendkowska said. “I believe the players are happy, they have motivation right now, they know what it’s like to win, because we haven’t won a lot of games in past years.”

Kamps took a stoic approach regarding the men’s performance, noting that the tournament was their first exhibition action that featured two games against CIS-level teams.

The University of Calgary Dinos even featured two former Avs in Jeremias Guenter and Brendan Visser, who wore the red and black instead of the blue and white.

Red Deer College is traditionally one of the top five teams in the country as well, which was just another way for the Avs to gauge how they stack up.

“It was a good measuring stick to see where we are at,” said Kamps. “I think we learned a lot from our guys and learned how to play together as a team and got everybody in so it was a very worthwhile experience.”

Kamps was impressed with the showing against the University of Calgary Dinos despite the 3-0 loss, because the first two sets were out of reach by only a few points.

“The first two, we had chances to actually take some sets off them and that was four of their starters for CIS, so our guys were jacked to play and prepared to play and came out and gave everything they had,” said Kamps.

“We were digging absolutely everything and our blocking looked very good as well.”

Serving is one area the team needs to improve on, as Kamps noted that the consistency was atrocious, while adding that the team needs to play with the right emotions on the court.

 

Rumble in the Rockies Avalanche results:

Women

Thursday

COTR        3    Augustana        0

Friday

COTR        3    Lethbridge       1

COTR        3    King’s UC        2

Saturday

COTR        0    King’s UC        3

 

Men

Friday

COTR        0    UofC        3

COTR        1    RDC        3

Saturday

COTR        0    TRU        3

CORT        2    RDC        3

 

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