By: Dwayne Tingley
Statistics reveal supremacy in the AUS women's volleyball conference, but Dalhousie Tigers veteran Julie Moore believes the numbers don't tell the whole story.
The Tigers, who have won seven consecutive AUS championships, lead the standings with an 8-0 record as the conference takes a month-long break. They have won 24 of 27 sets and have left the rest of the conference scrambling for playoff spots.
"Things have gone pretty well, but it certainly hasn't been a perfect start for us," said Moore, a third-year outside hitter from Halifax.
"We know there is still a lot of room for improvement so we can't be satisfied with the first half," she continued. "We've been playing against teams that have challenged us and that's shown us that we still have to practise hard and strike to get better every day."
The Tigers lead the conference and they are followed by the Saint Mary's Huskies (6-3), Acadia Axewomen (5-4), UNB Reds (4-5), Moncton Aigles Bleues (4-6) and the Memorial Sea-Hawks (0-9).
The top four teams will make the playoffs, which begin in mid-February.
"We have to keep working on our individual skills and we have to keep working together as a team," said Moore, who leads the Tigers with 104 digs, 93 kills and 27 saves.
"We know the other teams are going to improve in the second half of the season, so we have to raise our level of play, too," she added.
Tigers head coach Rick Scott said opposing teams bring their best efforts when they square off against the defending champions and he expects several tough games in the second half.
"The keys to our success this year has been our team's depth and having various people come in and contribute," Scott said.
"We have been, overall, solid with our first contact, and our blocking and defence has been a strength," stated Scott, who is in his 12th season at the helm of the Tigers. "We have shown some good balance offensively. We have had some strong play at key positions for us as well."
The Tigers will compete at the University of Winnipeg Invitational from Dec. 28 until Jan. 1.
"We're looking forward to playing against the teams from the west and some from Ontario," Moore said. "It will help build our team chemistry and help us prepare for the second half of the season in our conference." Scott wants the team to "raise its execution level" and continue to work hard daily in practice.
"We have some new faces in the lineup and that takes time and quality reps to achieve the high level of execution," said the three-time AUS coach of the year.
"There have been many hard-fought games in the conference, and you need to play well in order to win...it will be an interesting second half and a real battle."