Tommies women’s volleyball finishes short of end goal

Stills of the 2022/2023 ACAA-AASCC Volleyball championship held this past weekend February 24th to 26th, 2023. (Submitted: DW Photo)

After a game versus the Holland College Hurricanes on Feb. 25, another great season of Tommies women’s volleyball came to an end with a regular season record of 14 wins and only four losses.

St. Thomas University lost 3-0 in straight sets in the semifinals of the Atlantic Collegiate Athletic Association Women’s Volleyball Championship.

Even though the outcome was not what the team expected, coach Don McKay said he feels elated about his 11th season as head coach of the STU women’s volleyball team, where he matched the regular season record of his 2019 team.

“We had a great season, we have a young team that did well,” said McKay.

A season that started with two losses against Mount Allison University and Holland — 3-2 and 3-1, respectively — the Tommies knew how to overcome this, and later on in the season, they went 11 games undefeated. 

For McKay, what made this season unique was their undefeated streak and the opportunity to get ranked ninth nationally, and even after so many years he said he “looks forward to get the practice every day.”

A season characterized by the most effective offence in the ACAA, with an average of 10 kills per set, led McKay to be named this year’s coach of the year in women’s volleyball. 

“We’re just trying to [get] our teams ready to play and awards come and go,” said McKay.

He feels fortunate for having so many strong players during his years, but he wishes the outcome was different this time around. 

“It was one of the top seasons, no question,” he said. “It’s always fun when you go on a long run like that … it makes everybody aware of your program.”

Star players first-year Kathleen Boyle and second-year Abby Lanteigne are part of the 2022-23 ACAA women’s volleyball first-team all-conference, while fellow second-year Julia Campbell was part of the second-team all-conference.

“I definitely did not expect it,” said Boyle. “It’s something that I had to work very hard for.”

Boyle finished with 173 kills in 16 matches, making her one of the most dangerous players in the league.

Boyle’s favourite game was the home opener against the University of New Brunswick in Saint John after she missed the two games before with a concussion.

“It was my first chance to prove myself that I could be a starter on the team [while] being so young,” said Boyle.

It’s not a coincidence that both Boyle and Lanteigne are part of the first-team as they have played together before. Boyle considers Lanteigne her best friend on the court.

“She was very supportive towards me, as she was one of the main reasons that I chose to play for STU,” said Boyle.

Boyle said season’s like theirs are a process and the team has more years to improve. 

“I’m proud of how we did, even though we didn’t win … we still worked hard to get to where we got to,” she said.