Jefferson Hagen / MacEwan Athletics
EDMONTON – It would be natural for the MacEwan women's volleyball team to dwell on last Saturday's heartbreaking 3-2 defeat at Manitoba, including a fifth set where they led 12-8 but lost 15-12. It stings that much.
However, that wouldn't be healthy; the Griffins have no choice but to move on.
"I know some people were the most bitter they've been," said head coach Ken Briggs. "But you get over it. You're right back ready preparing for the next team. You don't have time to wallow.
"You're just building where we left off. What's different about this (next) team?"
The next opponent for the 0-8 Griffins is a doozy: the defending national champion UBC Thunderbirds whom they will face in Vancouver on Friday (1 p.m. MT) and Saturday (6 p.m., MT, both on Canada West TV). Currently, the T-Birds are 6-2 and ranked second in the USPORTS ranks.
"They are the national champions, but they have had some change," said Briggs. "They play a simple game and it's beat us. They're not going to try to surprise you with Xs and Os and fancy plays and different formations. They're a very straight-forward team that's big and physical."
In many ways that makes the preparation easier even if the challenge is as daunting as any they've faced this season. Beyond the aura of being defending national champs, UBC's stars – chiefly Kiera Van Ryk (the Canada West leader in kills per set with 4.31) – can just take over a match. The Griffins lost to them 3-0 in preseason action.
The Griffins certainly have too much talent and veteran experience to still be winless on the campaign. But, as was evident against Manitoba, confidence is a fickle mistress. Rarely does a team with victory in its grasp drop seven-straight points to record a defeat.
"They did a nice job defending us," said Briggs. "They made a couple of really key digs – not that we didn't. But we just couldn't move the scales. We got caught in not a particularly great rotation.
"It was a great learning experience, but it's to the point where it has nothing to do with volleyball. Now it's the head."
And the most important mental strategy the Griffins can employ moving forward is leaving tough losses like that in the past.
"They have been resilient and each weekend we've sustained the pressure longer," said Briggs.