A look at the Tommies women’s volleyball team

The St. Thomas University women's volleyball team won 3-1 against the Dalhousie Agricultural Campus Rams on Feb. 2. (Shannon Cornelius/AQ)

The current 2022-23 season has been a memorable one for the St. Thomas University women’s volleyball team as they finished the regular season with a 14-4 record, matching the record of the 2019 team.  

A season that did not start favourably with two losses, the Tommies were able to make a huge comeback that tied them in first place with Mount Saint Vincent University.

Don McKay, head coach of the women’s volleyball team, is closing his 11th season as a Tommie, where he’s registered his lowest number of defeats.

McKay said the way he connects with the team is by having a caring philosophy.

“I’m a stickler for details … so taking care of the little things to make sure the whole process is completed before you do any celebrating,” McKay said.

The importance of having a great group of coaches who support him with the team is crucial for McKay, and he also expects the players to give feedback which perpetuates a healthy environment for everyone.

“You don’t know what the other person is going through in their life outside of the court,” said McKay. “We try to get them involved in volunteering, involved in giving back to the community.”

For McKay, this season has been excellent and, in looking forward to the playoffs, he’s glad they had to play the stronger teams recently. The team lost their run of 11 undefeated games against the University of New Brunswick Saint John Seawolves on Feb. 1, but was not something to be ashamed of.

“What I liked about the end of the winning streak was that we were playing strong teams, and we were beating most of them,” McKay said. “I want them to be able to handle that adversity … and be better prepared to play and not take anything for granted.”

One of the most prominent features of this team is how each one of the players looks up to the other.

Lauren Moerike, the libero currently in her second year, said the way they support and push each other has been crucial for the team’s success.

“Since we know each other so well, it makes it a lot easier to play,” Moerike said.

For her, January Athlete of the Month Julia Campbell has been a pillar of the team. Campbell’s numbers this season do not lie; she has made 415 assists so far, with an average of 7.16 assists per set.

When asked who has been crucial for the team, Campbell said their two left sides, Abby Lanteigne and Kathleen Boyle, are the backbone.

“They play so well defensively and offensively,” said Campbell.

Campbell said the team will be looking to maintain the same mindset in the playoffs they have had throughout the season. 

The playoffs, starting Saturday Feb. 25 because of a first round bye for finishing top two in the league, will set up a chance to reclaim the title which has eluded them since 2008, where they won seven trophies in eight years.