Manitoba’s reputation as the hotbed of volleyball on the national stage is not up for debate, but there is pressure associated with that status.
The women who will represent the province at the Canada Summer Games next month understand this and although they have prepared without fanfare, they are clear about their goals.
“We’re going for gold, there’s no doubt about it,” right wing Faye Murray said earlier this week as the provincial under-20 team trained at the Sport for Life Centre. “Essentially we are here to win and bring back the medal like they did in 2017 and maintain that (tradition).
“But really, we work hard every day and we all try to improve individually as well as improve the team. We try to become better athletes and teammates.
Head coach Alix Krahn, who was among the province’s 2009 Canada Summer Games gold medallists, said there will be a number of quality provincial teams at the 2022 Games The women’s indoor tournament is scheduled for Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont., Aug. 16-21.
“Even though Manitoba has a tradition of winning, I think it’s really important to go from the perspective that we’re going to win every win that we get, we’re going to work hard and stay committed to working hard and as the fruit of hard work. hard work, we’ll get where you want to go,” Krahn said.
“I’m also a big proponent of the team’s need for goal setting and initiative. We had a team session where we talked about what we want to accomplish this summer and definitely a gold medal is on that list.
Krahn’s roster is dotted with young players fresh out of high school, like star University of Manitoba rookie Raya Surinx, but she will also be able to count on a more experienced presence from Murray de Rosenort and the 5- 10 Justine Korody.
Murray, a 19-year-old St. Mary’s Academy graduate, recently completed a stellar freshman season with Mount Royal University, helping the Cougars finish second at the U Sports National Championships after starting the season as a that likely player in a red shirt.
Murray did so despite playing out of position as a starting midfielder after an injury to a veteran player threw her into the breach.
At the U Sports National Tournament, Mount Royal eliminated the Korody Alberta Pandas in the semi-finals. Korody’s season also took an unexpected turn.
One of the Pandas’ veteran passers left the team at the start of the school year and Korody was quickly given a starting spot, only to suffer a stress fracture in his ankle during a preseason tournament. She treated the injury and returned to her role in January.
At the Games, Korody is expected to be a vocal leader for her home province.
“I think it’s a matter of level of effort,” Korody said. “I know that if we try our best and do everything we can, I can definitely accept where we are. Everyone obviously wants to win, but as long as we’re trying hard and doing everything we can, I’m totally happy with where we’re at.
Left-back Natalie Lemoine-Sells, a 17-year-old from the Junior Bisons program through Collège Jeanne-Sauvé, will be heading to the University of the Fraser Valley for her first season of U Sports competition this fall. A successful run at the Games would be a perfect way to kick off his season.
“On this team, we all treat each other as equals regardless of our age and experience,” said 6-foot Lemoine-Sells. Obviously you can learn from older players with their college experience, but just finding ways to be as much of a leader as possible too. And I also played with some of these girls when I was younger, so I still haven’t really had a problem finding my way to lead a team.
Krahn guides the team through five evening practices and three morning skills sessions per week.
This weekend in Calgary, the Manitobans will play their first game as a unit at the Canada Cup, an event that will feature the National Junior Team and a number of 20U provincial teams.
It’s a good opportunity to refine the team’s chemistry on and off the pitch.
Next month, Krahn wouldn’t hesitate to replicate Manitoba’s 2017 win on home turf.
“I was able to watch this game at Investors Group (Athletic Centre) and the energy in the building was pretty electric,” Krahn said. “It’s so funny because I played in 2009, we also won a gold medal that summer and it was in Prince Edward Island and I thought the energy there -down was electric. But when I saw IGAC crowded on the grill, with everyone there, it was awesome. Seeing that just gives me chills.