In a year filled with both triumphs and obstacles, the road to Atlantic University Sport (AUS) playoffs was rocky at best for the Varsity Reds women’s volleyball team.
Finishing the season with a mediocre 7-9 overall record, the team nonetheless advanced to the AUS semi-finals before falling 3-0 to the Saint Mary’s University Huskies earlier this month. It was not the result the UNB community had hoped for, but head coach Jilliane Goulet believes the season was far more successful than the team’s record suggests.
“Overall, our season went very well,” said Goulet. “We had some difficulty at the beginning, and struggled to win a game in the first ten matches that we played. As much as it was a difficult period, it also strengthened our resolve as a team and we realized that we could do better.”
Goulet said the team used the tough times to push them to try harder and learned from them.
“The tough times really brought us together with a fighting spirit and I’m thankful that we have players on the team who wanted to persevere and get better.”
Goulet cited the last five games of the season, a period where the team won three games against highly skilled opponents, as the high points of the season.
After suffering a tough loss on the road at the hands of the Memorial Seahawks, she credited her team for returning to Fredericton with a newfound resolve to compete. The team went on to channel that energy into the last two matches of the season against Acadia and l’Université de Moncton, defeating both perennial contenders.
Although the team improved immensely over the course of the season, they also encountered a string of bad luck, threatening the team’s overall success. Along with the early season losses and several injuries before Christmas, Goulet believed the true low points of the season were “games where we beat ourselves and didn’t play to our fullest potential.”
In fact, the V-Reds season came to an end during one of those games, with SMU outplaying them when it mattered most.
If UNB’s coach holds any hard feelings about this loss they are well-hidden beneath the immense pride she feels for her team.
“Looking back at where we started,” said Goulet, “I believe that we accomplished everything that we could possibly accomplish this year.”
Looking towards the future, Goulet has high hopes for the Varsity Reds volleyball program. With the bulk of the team returning next season, it seems as though UNB will be a contender for several years to come – that is, if they can replace the drive and passion that star player Rebecca Glancy brought to the team.
“Rebecca was by far the hardest working player at practice every day and led the team in our matches,” said Goulet. “She was really committed to making this a good year for the team and for herself, and there are going to be big shoes to fill when she leaves.”
A few up-and-comers to look forward to in the 2014-2015 season include the team’s libero Paige Nelmes, who was named a second team All-Star again this season. Having excelled on the court since her arrival at UNB, Goulet hopes she will continue to be one of the team’s dominant leaders in the future.
Vanja Mitrovic is another exciting player who is expected to have a breakout season next year. With the return of these two young athletes, along with many other key role players, the future certainly looks bright for UNB’s women’s volleyball program.