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Cobras prove deadly with middle attackers
The Cobras Volleyball Club 18-and-under girls knew where their strength was this season, and they nearly rode it to a national championship.
The Cobras launched their attack up the middle, where 6-foot-4 Alicia Ogoms and 6-foot-2 Ashley Goodwin overwhelmed opponents with their size and a barrage of power, and it led them to a provincial club championship and a third-place finish at the Canadian Open last month.
Ogoms, an all-star at the nationals and MVP at provincials who was also named the 18-and-under player of the year by the Manitoba Volleyball Association, is headed to the University of Southern California in the fall. Meanwhile, Goodwin (a Miles Macdonell student) and libero Alyssa Kidd (a Glenlawn Collegiate student) were all-stars in the provincial championship, and Selkirk power hitter Mikaela Ryshytylo is off to the University of Wyoming.
In other words, there was plenty of talent on the team for head coach Jon Hykawy and assistant Doug Ross to work with.
"The starting six was definitely pretty solid," said Hykawy, a West Kildonan resident. "It was the biggest team I’ve coached in 30 years. Height-wise, we could match up with a university team."
The Cobras’ three losses at the nationals came against the teams that eventually finished first, second and fourth. Hykawy said the quality of the competition, from top to bottom, was the best he’s seen at a national event.
The field was so deep, he said, that on the first day the Cobras were a set away from playing for 33rd place instead of first. After trailing 8-3 in the third set against a team from Alberta, the Cobras came back to win 15-12, a confidence-boosting performance that propelled them to the semifinals.
"That was really scary," said Ogoms, a Rivergrove resident who led St. Mary’s Academy to a provincial high-school title earlier in the season. "It was a bit of a wake-up call. We should have beaten them in two sets, but we struggled to win in three. We were able to realize the level we had to play at to be successful. We came out the next day and knew what we had to do."
The Cobras went on a roll, only to lose in the semis to the gold medal-winning Calgary Dinos before beating the Aurora (Ontario) Storm in the bronze-medal game.
"Our goal is always to try to get to the top eight," Hykawy said. "I know how hard that is. Once we did that our goal was to reach the semis, and then our goal was to win the last match we played."
Ogoms and her teammates still haven’t quite gotten over the loss to Calgary, but realize a third-place finish in a field of more than 90 teams is still something to be proud of.
"I think we played the best we could have, but you’re always disappointed to lose," she said.
Hykawy pointed out that the showing was especially strong considering the limitations Manitoba clubs have compared to teams from other provinces.
"Most of those teams start training in September," he said. "We’re not allowed to here until January. It’s a lot tougher for Manitoba teams to win championships because of the rules put in place."
(1 of 5 articles for this week)05/15/2013 1:00 AM 0
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