Dalhousie University is once again the champion of AUS women’s volleyball. They defeated the University of New Brunswick Reds 3-1 to capture the title at Dalplex on March 2.
This is Dal’s seventh straight AUS championship.
“It is really hard to win an AUS championship, and I think it is a testament to (the players’) hard work and all of the girls over the years who have been a part of those seven,” said Dal’s Head Coach Rick Scott.
Out of the seven championships, this is the second championship they won at home. The other time was in 2014.
“They’re always special; it doesn’t matter where you win,” said Scott. “But it is a little extra sweet when you are playing at home with the crowd behind you and having family on your home court.”
Dal was undefeated throughout most of the year but lost to Saint Mary’s and UNB late in the season. Those were the same teams Dal had to beat to win the championship. The losses made Dal realize they were beatable.
“We need to show up for every game, and I think we were going through the motions,” said Tiger Julie Moore about the late season losses. “We have to earn it, and I think we did that today.”
Dalhousie and Saint Mary’s kicked off championship weekend on March 1.
The Tigers pounced on the Huskies in the first set leading 14-4. Ten of those points were because of attack errors by the Huskies. Dal won the set 25-16.
It was a similar story in the second set as Dal had a 12-2 lead, with eight of those points coming from SMU errors because the Huskies were hitting the ball out of bounds. Saint Mary’s managed to fight back and got the score to 20-14, but Dal ended up winning 25-16.
The third set started close with Dal leading 9-7. Then the Tigers took over. They outscored the Huskies 14-5 to win their third set and win the match.
For the Tigers, Mieke DuMont led the game with 15 points. On Saint Mary’s side, Sim Gill led them with 7 points and Olivia Bell had 6.5.
The next day Dalhousie played UNB in the finals. UNB was the hottest team in the league coming into the game. They won eight out of nine games to end the regular season. They also defeated Acadia in the semi-finals in straight sets.
Dal got off to a 7-0 lead to start the game and carried that momentum to win the set 25-14.
In the second set, Dal was up 22-18 with another set victory in sight. However, UNB battled back, outscoring Dal 8-2 to win the set 26-24.
Dalhousie came out firing in the third and led 12-1. They ended up winning 25-12.
The fourth set started close at 10-10, but Dal slowly began to pull away with two 3-point streaks. For the winning play, Courtney Baker passed the ball in the air, and Moore ran and hit it for the championship-winning kill. The 1,100 fans inside Dalplex roared.
“It feels incredible,” said Moore, who led Dal with 17.5 points in the championship game. “Honestly I knew we could do it, once that last kill was on the ground it is an incredible feeling.”
For fifth-year Mieke DuMont, she finishes her five-year career as a five-time AUS champion. This is the only championships she has won at home.
“It’s definitely a surreal experience,” says DuMont.
A huge part of Dal’s success is because of Courtney Baker. She won the regular season and AUS championship MVP this year while battling a minor knee and hip injury. She is excellent at setting up her teammates for kills, but she is a great attacker, defender, and blocker.
“She’s a force as a setter and then to have her to be able to attack is a luxury, so we’re lucky to have her,” said Scott.
Dalhousie will go back to nationals to try to chase a medal, something that they have not been able to achieve as a program.
Nationals are held at the University of Alberta March 15-17.