Head coach: Dan McGregor, 6th season
Keys for the Rebels:
Key Additions: Darby Coughlin – right side, Jessica Thorkelsson – middle
Key Returnees: Chloe Orteza – captain, Sara Meisner – outside hitter
Key Losses: Ashley Goodwin – middle, Taylor Gray – co-captain
Season Preview: What do you do for an encore? The Red River Rebels women’s volleyball captured their first Manitoba Colleges Athletic Conference (MCAC) in the 2018-19 season after being the third seed.
Dan McGregor, in his sixth season as head coach, discussed building on the team’s success. “We may not have the depth or experience that the other teams in the conference have, but that was also the case last year when we won. The goal is to get a little bit better every game and peak at the right time in order to take a run at another championship this year.”
The Rebels peaked at the right time last season and a strong group has been constructed by McGregor to concentrate on defending their title. Newcomer Darby Coughlin, 5’9” right side, had one season with the Manitoba Bisons and should provide an offensive spark while rookie Jessica Thorkelsson, 6’3” middle, was a redshirt with the Winnipeg Wesmen and will be an intimidating force in the front row.
Championship players returning are Chloe Orteza, 5’11” captain plus co-Team MVP in 2018-19, and Sara Meisner, 5’9” outside hitter, are primed for a repeat performance. They both stated, “We are excited to defend the championship title with our new teammates!”
McGregor felt the mantle of being a champ would not allow this year’s squad to be able to enter the season under the radar. In the past, the Rebels have had a strong start and opposing teams will now be ready to play their best versus them. He also talked about this squad not playing as many pre-season games as the other teams in our conference and will have to gel and bond quickly to initiate a good start to the season.
For a program that was 0-22 in the 2015-16 season, there is now a winning culture that has steadily been built and culminated with a championship banner last season. The winning feeling is contagious and the Rebels want to stay atop the ultra-competitive MCAC conference.
McGregor also believed that to repeat last year that, ‘preventing injuries is a focus and we will need to ensure that we don’t run into the overuse injuries that can derail a team when you get to the end of the season. It is important to monitor player reps and ensure that players are taking care of themselves and listening to their bodies.’
The title defence commences on November 2 on the road against Les Rouges de l’Université de Saint-Boniface (USB) and Red River seeks to be holding the trophy once again during the MCAC Finals weekend on February 29-March 2.
– By Chris Zuk