This year, Dalhousie University is hosting the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) volleyball championships at Dalplex from March, 1 to 2. Dalhousie is the favourite to win its seventh straight AUS championship.
Here’s a brief overview of the four teams competing.
Match 1: Dalhousie University (1) vs. Saint Mary’s University (4)
On their team is a dynamic offensive duo of Julie Moore and Mieke DuMont. Moore is second in the league in points scored per set while DuMont is fifth.
Passing them the ball is superstar setter Courtney Baker who has experience playing on team Canada. Baker can use her intelligence to continually make the defence guess if the ball is going to be passed to Moore, DuMont or another teammate.
All three of them are fantastic defensively as well. A great cast of talented teammates supports them.
With all the success and talent, Dalhousie hasn’t played well leading into the playoffs. They lost two of their final four games, against SMU and the University of New Brunswick. Chances are they are just setbacks, but it shows the Tigers can be defeated.
Saint Mary’s Huskies
Going into their Jan. 25 game against Université de Moncton, Saint Mary’s had a record of five wins and eight losses (5-8). Then they won six straight games which boosted their record and put them in the last playoff spot.
The Huskies spread out their offence; they have five players placed ninth to 15th in individual scoring. This makes their offence versatile and difficult to predict. They’re also great defensively because they have the most digs per set by any team.
The Huskies’ issue is that they have the most amount of errors in the league. Which means they often give points to the opposing team. If SMU players can limit their errors, they should make it a close game.
Match 2: Acadia University (2) vs. University of New Brunswick (3)
Just like Dalhousie, Acadia has their own three-headed monster. Lucy Glen-Carter is third in the league in points per set and Lauryn Renzella is sixth. Their setter is Regan Herrington who has the most assists per set in the league this year.
Overall, the team is third in points scored per set.
Acadia is a solid team as they are in the top three of most statistical categories. It is interesting to note they have the most service aces and second most blocks, but they also have the most serve errors and blocking errors.
Acadia did take Dalhousie to a fifth and deciding set in the AUS championship game last year, which is volleyball’s version of overtime. Many of the players on last year’s team returned. With strong playoff experience, they are a contending team.
UNB is on fire. Before their Jan. 13 game against the Huskies, the Reds had a record of 4-6. Since then they have a record of 8-1, only losing to Acadia once. However, they beat the Axewomen twice during that run.
There’s a theme of the top team’s having two great offensive players. Statistically, UNB has the best combination.
Siobhan Fitzpatrick leads the league in points per set while Victoria Eadle is fourth. Megan Kuciak is a solid third option as well. Passing everyone the ball is setter Paige Lehto, who is third in assists per set. Simply put, UNB has a fantastic offence and scores the second-most points per set in the AUS.
Defensively they are first in blocks. Kristen Burns has 19 more blocks then the next closest player and the Reds have three other players in the top 10. This makes opposing offences have to be creative on how they’re going to hit the ball away from those blockers, which can lead to the offence hitting the ball out of bounds and giving the point to the Reds.
Volleyball fans should be in for an exciting AUS championship. The two best teams in the league, Dalhousie and Acadia are up against two hot teams in UNB and SMU. Even though Dalhousie is the favourite, there is indeed no guarantee that they will be the AUS champions. Any of the four teams have a good shot.