The UNB Varsity Reds' women's volleyball team showed steady improvement and a remarkable depth of new and returning talent in three pre-season games at home over Thanksgiving weekend.
On Friday, the V-Reds came back from being down 2 sets to 0 to the Acadia Axewomen to win the next three and take the game (25-27, 21-25, 25-21, 25-23, 25-13). The top scorer for UNB was rookie Janie-Eve Doucet who racked up 20.5 points in front of her hometown crowd. Doucet was followed by veteran Vanja Mitrovic with 11 points.
On Saturday, the Varsity Reds faced off against the Western Mustangs. The teams traded sets at the beginning of the match, but confidence issues seemed set in for UNB during the third set and the V-Reds never really got back into the game. UNB lost 1-3 (22-25, 27-25, 19-25, 14-25). Doucet was again the top scorer for UNB with 17 points. Mitrovic followed with 13. Not far behind Mitrovic with 12 points was Victoria Eadle, who is also a rookie.
Thanksgiving Sunday saw a rematch between UNB and Western - and a Varsity Reds volleyball squad that was looking to improve on the previous day's mistakes. They did just that, showing better blocking and serve return. UNB took the match 3-1 (21-25, 25-20, 25-23, 25-23).
UNB head coach Jillian Goulet says she's pleased with the weekend's results.
"I think we learned some valuable lessons in the first two games and by this game, this is as good as we've been playing volleyball this season," she said. "So to see that come today with our last exhibition match before our season starts, I'm very pleased."
Goulet says one of the key things about this year's team is the depth of talent on the roster. If one particular player happens to struggle, there are others who can step in and take on that role.
"Today in particular it was nice to see both of our middles really be turned on to what they needed to do. And [fifth-year setter] Paige Paulsen has just been a constant force for us - someone that we can always rely on every match."
There's no denying that this is a very young volleyball team, with well over half the roster in their first or second year. When asked what she expects from them in the future, Goulet says great things.
"I think this is really a special year for us, because we do have those young players who are very capable, lots of potential coming in, but we also have strong returning players. And they're going to be gone after this year, some of them. So to me this is a really special year to have both of those strong groups together."
Please note: Due to technical issues, the box score doesn't show the first set. We apologize for the inconvenience.