DAVID LARKINS, Wesmen Athletics
WINNIPEG — The Winnipeg Wesmen returned to the Canada West conference stage Friday night but looked a little like their hearts were still in the holiday season.
Emily Koshinsky had 11 kills and the Saskatchewan Huskies hit .275 as a team in a 3-0 (25-18, 25-17, 25-20) win over the Wesmen women's volleyball team at the Duckworth Centre.
On a night she was inducted into the Wesmen Athletics Ring of Honour, U of W head coach Diane Scott was left struggling for answers as to her team's flat play in its return to real action.
"There's no energy and you'd have to explain to me why," Scott said. "We've been training and they've been training well all week. And if you can't get the juices going for a home game and a competitive game, and a game that potentially has ramifications for playoffs, you have to be willing to show up and get a little grittier. It's obviously disappointing and it's frustrating ... because the opportunity is there."
The loss dropped Winnipeg to 3-10 on the season, while Saskatchewan improved to 5-8, extending its lead over the Wesmen in the race for the final playoff positions in the conference.
The post-season picture was one Saskatchewan head coach Mark Dodds said his team has generally tried to avoid talking about, but is nevertheless well aware.
"We just try to put an importance on every match and keep things similar," Dodds said. "But they're human beings — the players, all of us — and we look and we see and analyze, so this was a big match. This was a really big match for us and we need to win a bunch more moving forward. (Saturday) night becomes another really important match."
Emma Parker had 16 kills and hit .225 to lead Winnipeg, while Ashleigh Laube had a team-high 12 digs.
Huskies libero Shae Beaulieu had a match-high 20 digs and the Huskies defence put up five solo blocks and eight block assists on the night.
Prior to the match Scott, who was one of the Wesmen's most prolific athletes when she played and won three national championships in the 1980s and 90s, was inducted into the new Wesmen Ring of Honour, which was established last month. She became the third member of four Wesmen athletes who will go in as part of the inaugural 2018-19 class.
Photo: Shanlee McLennan/Wesmen Athletics