Gretzky and Messier. Kobe and Shaq. Ruth and Gehrig.
There’s no question that a talented duo can provide a one-two punch capable of leading a team to the promise land and the Mount Royal Cougars women’s volleyball team is hoping their left-side tandem of Andrea Price and Breanna Estabrook can do just that.
“They’re such good role models,” head coach Sandra Lamb said of the two. “Breanna is a captain on the team and Andrea is always a leader too. We are going to rely on them very heavily throughout the year.”
So far the Cougars strategy seems to be working. Through four games of ACAC conference play — away series against Briercrest and home and away stands against Lethbridge — the Cougars have yet to concede a single set. In fact, taking their exhibition record into account, Mount Royal has lost just one game out of 10.
Estabrook says the key to the big cats’ early success has been communication.
“We are a dynamic duo together because we work well together and talk a lot on the court,” Estabrook said. “All seven of us on the court have to work together. That’s a crucial component we want to communicate to them [the first-year players].”
Price agreed, “I think everyone is really welcoming. It’s only the beginning of our season and we are already really close, so that helps a lot.”
Lamb points out that Estabrook and Price don’t just talk a big game, noting that the two are extremely gifted volleyball players as well.
“Breanna has been battling an injury [tendonitis in her shoulder] but is still digging deep and performing well for us,” she said. “Andrea is very dynamic as a player, she has a quick arm swing and is very active in her talking and what not. She earns the respect of her teammates effectively.”
Another big addition to the Cougars roster this season has been the return of Diyon Van Nistelrooy. The fourth-year middle stepped out of game action for a season last year to help coach the team.
“Diyon is definitely sure and stable on the court and someone we can look up to,” Estabrook said.
Lamb added that the Cougars have developed a more up-tempo offensive scheme this year that seems to be working to their advantage.
“We still have some work to do to iron out the kinks but it seems to be coming along for them,” Lamb said. “As well, we have had a number of first-year players play extremely well.”
Now, with the key pieces in place for the lady Cougars, this year’s squad has set some lofty goals for the season ahead.
“Everybody wants to win provincials and get to nationals and do well there,” Estabrook said.
To have a shot at making provincials, the Cougars will look to play well enough in the first semester to make the ACAC power pool.
After first semester action, the top three volleyball teams from both the North and South divisions are reseeded into one group that then competes for the top prize in February.
Lamb believes her team is best served to focus on their own games and not worry about the standings and performance of other teams.
“We don’t really have time to sit back and worry about how other teams are doing because it [the schedule)] comes quick,” she said. “You have to get rid of thoughts like that because a new game is coming and anybody in this league can beat you at anytime.
“We definitely need to not consume ourselves with how good we are because we haven’t earned anything yet and we have got to prove ourselves on the court.”
Lamb and the Cougars will get a chance to prove themselves very soon as their next weekend series comes against the undefeated Red Deer College Queens at home on Kenyon Court Nov. 13 and on the road