Sometimes all it takes is one player to start a comeback and revive a sputtering team.
Raeesa Lalani was that player Jan. 13. After subbing in late in the first set, she helped lead the Tigers to a straight sets win over the Cape Breton Capers.
It was a successful return from the winter break for the Dalhousie women’s volleyball team, now ranked sixth in the country. After beating Acadia in straight sets the day before, Dal returned to face the winless Capers in a matinee at the Dalplex. The Tigers stumbled out of the gate, keeping the first set closer than it should have been.
“Inconsistent,” summarized Tigers coach Rick Scott regarding his team’s play for most of the first set.
“Give Cape Breton credit, they served tough and attacked the ball well.”
After committing 10 errors compared to CBU’s four, the Tigers regrouped to close out the set 25-21.
“We were just trying to get the jitters out a bit,” added team captain Louise Facca. “But I think we cleaned it up in the second and third set.”
During the final two sets, which the Tigers handily won 25-13 and 25-8, they outperformed the shorthanded Capers, with a 20-8 kill advantage and only nine errors to CBU’s 20.
“Rae was great today. She jumpstarted that second set with her serving,” says Facca, regarding Lalani’s burst of seven serves in a row to pull away from CBU in the second set.
Facca contributed with a seven-serve streak of her own in the third set, but was happy to acknowledge the hard work of her teammate.
“I think she [Lalani] really stepped up today and was a good leader for us.”
“That’s our player,” added coach Scott of the fourth-year outside hitter. “She played really well for us and was very deserving of the player of the game.”
While Lalani’s performance is deserving of praise, Scott acknowledged the hustle of team leaders like Facca and Tarah-Lynn Truant.
“Our leaders have done a good job providing that competitiveness, desire and mental focus which is really important to being successful and for us to reach our goal of being champions.”
The league-leading Tigers are owners of a 9-2 record. They are the winners of their last seven games.
Dal returns to the court this weekend for a pair of road games. A rematch is scheduled against Cape Breton on Jan. 18 and the next day they face St. Francis Xavier.