Vikings Men’s Volleyball Training to Break Streak

BY AVOLIN SEN / STAFF WRITER

The Augustana Vikings sports teams for the 2022/23 seasons include basketball, curling, cross-country running, hockey (men’s), soccer (women’s), indoor track, nordic ski and volleyball. This season, the Vikings have been victorious in many fields. The Vikings Women’s Basketball team recently brought home a win over the Red Deer Polytechnic Queens. The same can be said for the Men’s Hockey team, who won a game against the Red Deer Polytechnic Kings in a split series, falling 6-3, before returning home for a Saturday night match-up in front of Vikings fans for a 4-3 win. 

Despite the many wins in many of the sports offered by Augustana, we have unfortunately been having a poor streak of losses for the men’s volleyball team. I wanted to find out why such was the case, so I took the opportunity to interview two members of our team: Boris Kuljanin, one of the outside hitters, and our very own team captain and libero, Bryce Boan.

I wanted to delve into the motivation behind what got the two players into volleyball. “My dad tried to get me into it,” said Bryce. “I was more of a hockey player and a soccer player and things like that. And then in grade eight, I made the volleyball team, and it was fun, you know, but I didn’t care too much for it, but it made me happy and I grew to enjoy it. It was fun to play with buddies. I started playing club because it was something I could keep doing all year round during school. And I got better at it. Something that really hooked me onto volleyball and kept me going is just the emotional impact that this game holds. It has a lot more than other sports just because you’re right there at that moment. And when it’s neck and neck, and somebody thunders down, that feeling of adrenaline and high blood soars and lifts you up. It’s a feeling I’ve never felt. So that got me hooked. And I’ve been pushing and striving after that feeling ever since.”

Boris’s interest in the sport arose from his peers from high school. “I would say for myself, a lot of it had to do with being with my friends. We had a lot of fun together and grew as a group throughout high school. So for me, that really became a feeling of belonging and community. For me, that was my childhood.”

We then got to the elephant in the room. Despite the rigorous training and dedication for volleyball, why had we still fallen behind our opponents? Both team members answered honestly, to their credit, discussing their strengths and weaknesses. “So we’ve had a tough schedule to start this year, minus our first game against Concordia,” Boris began, finding the opponents quite formidable. “We played against Kings University, NAIT and Red Deer for the next three games. Red Deer placed first in provincials last year. NAIT was second, and Kings got the bronze. We’ve played back to back, which doesn’t help–during the first game against Concordia at home, the first game of the season, our nerves were running a little bit. I feel like we played well. But in the first game, nerves got to us a little bit, I think. But we are seeing a lot of good things in each game, especially playing those last three high-level teams where we see good things, and we are trying to build off that, and we also see some bad things that we might need to fix. But again, it’s still early.”

Playing against those big teams is really tough. We can’t give them anything. Otherwise, they’ll just run with it, and then it’s very tough for us to climb back.

Bryce Boan, team captain

Bryce believed it was due to the common mistakes made by the team. “I would say closing out late in the game when we get to about 20 points like we’ll be giving with teams. Then we’ll make a lot of unforced errors, like on our side serving some hitting errors, and slight miscommunications that kind of just–again, playing against those big teams is really tough. We can’t give them anything. Otherwise, they’ll just run with it. And then it’s very tough for us to climb back. Then, late in the game, there are only so many points you can give up until they win the set. Bryce replied. 

Fortunately, the team has been prepping well to ensure a win and tackle these obstacles. Bryce states that the team is doing a “better job this year of planning for every team they’re playing against.” They meet once a week and go over the film to create a plan for the next weekend against the opposing team. “We replay them twice during the weekend. So after the first game, we’ll have a little debrief and see what we need to adjust and then we’ll go on from there. We’ll see what to do in the next game. So goal wise, it would be to show that despite our record, we can still hang with many teams. And that shows in a lot of our sets. Like last night against Red Deer, we were neck and neck with them in that first and second set. We had a lead, but we were closed out at the end.  

The team worked hard over the summer to make this a successful season, hiring a coach to virtually work through training schedules. “We were all following a training program over the summer, which was pretty good. We all sent videos to show our progress through chats together. So that was nice as it held us accountable over the summer. Even though we didn’t get to see each other, we still knew what everyone was up to.”

Overall, I believe our team still has a good shot this season to bring us wins. While interviewing the two, I could feel their passion for the sport, the drive and resilience required to become fine athletes and dedicate their lives to the game, and I hope this will translate well in the oncoming matches. As fellow students of Augustana, we can channel our inner school spirit and cheer on our team at the next home game on November 18th!

Boris Kuljanin, left, and Bryce Boan, members of the Augustana Vikings Volleyball team. Photos submitted.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

VIKINGS MEN’S VOLLEYBALL TEAM SUFFERS TOUGH LOSS

BY SIRI PRASAD BABU / DAGLIGTALE FREELANCE WRITER

The first Augustana Vikings Men’s home volleyball game of the Winter 11-week term kicked off at 8:00 PM on the 1st of February, 2020. The Vikings played against the Concordia Thunder, who won the game with a total score of 3-2. The first two sets of the game were won by the opponent, with the Vikings only falling short by a couple of points. The respective box scores for each of the two sets were 25-20. As the game progressed, the Vikings put in substantial effort to make a great comeback, winning the following set with a score of 20-25. This raised the intensity of the game as our team began to catch up to the Thunder. The Vikings also won the next set with a score of 22-25, tying the games won per team. This led the game into an intense fifth and final set, in which the Vikings just fell short, by a score of 16-14. Although our team lost the game, the players did not give up and strived throughout the game to try their best to win. The MVP of the Augustana Vikings was awarded to Greg Kaliel who scored a total of 16 points, the highest total of any player in the game.

After the game, I had the opportunity to interview the co-captains of the team, Owen Murray and Thomas Zimmerman. When asked how the games went, both players had much to say. Murray said that “it was an inconsistent game” and Zimmerman said that “it was a tough battle to five sets, falling just short in the fifth set.”

Following up, when asked what they hoped to achieve in this game, Zimmerman further elaborated that they hoped to beat Concordia as they were currently in a three-way tie with them but failed to do so, as they couldn’t play to their full potential. Moreover, the co-captains were asked how they thought they performed, as well as how they thought the rest of their teammates performed. Murray stated that he “struggled the same as the team during the first and second sets as (they) started slow but managed to pick up the pace in the third and fourth sets, but could not hold it for the fifth.” Additionally, Zimmerman stated that “as a libero, I only focus on the defensive side of the game. From a serve-receive standpoint, I thought that I played very well. Jonah and I did a lot of 2-man serve-receives, pinching Owen out in order to allow him to focus on hitting, while the two of us focused on passing. We were able to run our offense effectively due to the quality of our passing and ending the fourth set with a perfect pass which allowed for Evan and Duncan to run a right-side x-ball. Speaking on the defensive side of things, I thought I was doing a good job picking up a lot of balls with 16 digs throughout the match, bringing me up to second in the North for total digs in the league. Meanwhile, looking at the team, our middles did a great job offensively, being stopped only a couple of times throughout the game. Our other hitters were on and off throughout the game. From a blocking standpoint, we had our moments but also let a couple of balls through, making it hard to play defense. We have struggled with this throughout the year as we have 3 setters, all with little experience in the ACAC, so trying to find a good connection all-around has been a struggle we are striving to overcome.”

Proceeding with the interview, the co-captains gave some thoughts on potential weaknesses of the team. “We struggled with forgetting our little errors. That’s why we were unsuccessful in Friday’s match, and part of Saturday’s match,” Murray said. Thomas added: “Our strong suit is definitely that mid-game chunk where we tend to dominate, but struggle during the start and finish of the game, while tending to battle hard to catch up throughout the game. Once the score hits 20 we tend to tense up and make errors in our gameplay. Not being able to close out at the end of the sets makes it hard to win games.”

When asked what they would’ve liked to improve upon, Murray said that they “needed to improve on resetting after making small mistakes on the court.” Instead, he wished that the players could move on and get their heads back in the game. Zimmerman further supported this by stating that the players needed to “work on their mental game as it is something they have been struggling with lately.” He believes they are a strong team and could definitely win more games but falter ever so often when they mentally fall apart.

Concluding this interview, and to gain some perspective on the players’ roles, the co-captains were asked to highlight some of the responsibilities they might have and how they worked towards achieving them. To this, Murray replied, “The one thing I need to continue to work towards is the team’s intensity. We may be out of the playoffs this year, but that doesn’t mean we can’t compete in order to become a better team for next year,” and Zimmerman replied, “A big part of being a captain is just looking out for the others on the team and helping them where it’s needed. The biggest responsibility is to effectively communicate from coach to players.”

THE SPORTS CORNER

AVNEET GREWAL / DAGLIGTALE STAFF WRITER

As the soccer season comes to a close, we interviewed the captain of the men’s soccer team to get his perspective on his season.  We started off by getting a short review of their last game in his words here is what he had to say; “Our last game of the season we played Lethbridge who is 2nd in the south and is a very strong team. Having a very depleted roster of 12 guys we were ready for the challenge and went out on the pitch and played a very strong first half even though the score was 2-0 for Lethbridge. In the second half 5th year striker Jaeden Norton scored to make it 3-1. With 15 minutes left we start to play more offensive to push for some goals but come up short with a 5-1 loss. Aside of the score I was very proud of how every guy played for our last game of the season.”
1. How was this season? Did it meet your expectations?
This season, I think, was a great season for Vikings soccer, even though we had a record of 2-12, which is not good, but coming off a couple zero-win seasons I like to think it was a win in my eyes. Aside from that I don’t think we met our expectations for this season. Going into the season we were in a new division and were hoping to prove ourselves with a winning record but throughout the season we lost a third of our roster to injuries and other issues. It is tough to keep up with the top-notch teams when that happens.
2. In your opinion did you guys play better this year than last?
Compared to last season I think we played better, especially coming into a new stronger division for soccer this year. I think this was because we had a core group of guys that were really committed and dedicated to the team this season.  We won two games and scored almost 4 times as many goals as we did last year.
3. What would you say was your best game this season?
Our best game this season, if you look at from a score perspective, was our away game against Ambrose. We won 2-1 with a man down the entire game. We had two goals from Jaeden, and they only scored with one-minute left. But some of our best games I think were some of the last even though the result wasn’t what we wanted. We played with a certain confidence that we didn’t have early in the season. We moved the ball well, held some possession, and every player was on their game.
4. Do you have any distinct moments that made this season memorable for you?
Some memorable moments this season were of course winning 2 games, as well as some absolutely beautiful snipes from Paul Lovsin, Qais Alizada and Jaeden Norton.
5. What was the toughest game of this season?
I think our toughest and most hard-fought game are our second game against SAIT, who is 1st.  The game before we lost our key starting midfield Paul to an injury and we were down in numbers. But aside from all the injuries and loss of players all the guys travel 3 hours to Calgary to battle against the best team in the league.
6. What are your hopes for next season?
As a fifth-year student and athlete I am graduating. But all I can hope for is that all the boys continue to be dedicated to the team and sport and work every practice to improve as players and to continue the upward trend of Vikings soccer.
(Originally published November 6, 2019)

VIKINGS WOMEN’S SOCCER DOMINATES OPENING GAMES

BY AVNEET GREWAL / DAGLIGTALE STAFF WRITER

The women’s soccer team kicked off their season with a bang. Their first game they won with a score of five to two. In their second game the following weekend, they dominated with an amazing score of ten to two. We spoke to the head coach, Tom McManus, to get an insight on how the team prepared for their season.

After spending the past year recruiting for the women’s team, they brought in twelve new players who the head coach acknowledges as being a great asset.  The teams arrived early in August to start training for their season; the coach said they worked on fitness training in each session to keep the team fit so the players stay in top shape.  When asked what other steps are taken to keep the team playing at a high level, the coach expressed that competition is in all parts of the pitch. He further explained that in order to better his players he wants them to surpass someone they see as a great player. “I tell them that I need someone better, not ‘as good as.'” The last thing the coach said was he really enjoyed working with all the players.

Crowds and supports have a big impact on the game. When the crowd gets excited and cheer, the energy they give off feeds the players. This makes the crowds crucial for the game; when we asked the coach about the impact of the crowd, he said, “the crowd is great. They definitely impact the games. I love hearing them and seeing them on the other side of the field, the players feed off it as well. The crowd of fans that we have is fantastic. We really appreciate them.”

(Originally published September 27, 2019)

Winter Rec Library: A Great Way to Ski and Skate with Augustana

BY AMIELLE CHRISTOPHERSON/PHOTO BY SARAH LAFLAMME

Those walking through the Forum Nov. 27 would have seen a table set up in front of the Wellness Week motivational posters. Manned by Augustana Advancement staff, Assistant Director Bree Urkow and Communications Coordinator Sydney Tancowny, the two were helping spread the word about and collect donations for this year’s Giving Tuesday project.
Giving Tuesday is a follow up to the spending that happens during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, often putting funds towards community and social justice projects. This year, Augustana Advancement was collecting donations for a Winter Rec Library.
According to Jadene Mah, the Athletic Services Coordiantor, this project was encouraged by Dean Allen Berger almost three years ago. The idea is that the Winter Rec Library will be a borrowing program comprised of skates and cross country skis made available to Augustana students, “in part with the hope that we could promote an active outdoor life during the winter for our international students,” said Mah in an e-mail.
Mah said, Nordic Legend, Les Parsons, pushed the project forward and contacted Head Librarian Nancy Goebel, whom Mah said “was on board immediately!”, and Feisal Kirumira, as an International Student Advisor. Almost three years later, with much support from ED of Student Life, Randal Nickel, the project is starting to take off.
The parties involved with making this project a reality are the Augustana Library, the Augustana Vikings’ Nordic Club Team, Campus Recreation – Student Life, Augsutana Advancement, and Dean of Students’ Office.
During Giving Tuesday, the group was looking to raise $4,000 for the project, which already includes a $2,000 matching gift. They have also already received an additional grant of $7,000 from the Dean of Students’ Office to make this project a reality.
Although the bulk of the fundraising effort was done through Giving Tuesday on Nov. 27, the Winter Rec Library is still accepting gifts. Those who are interested in donating can visit the Office of Advancement (L-34D AG01 Founders Hall) or do so online, indicating the gift is for the Augustana Innovation Fund (Giving Tuesday-Winter Rec Library).
All fundraised monies will go towards costs of the project, which includes purchasing skis and skates and storage cabinets.
The group is looking to purchase 20 complete sets of cross country skis and 10 pairs of boots to go along with them and an undecided number of hockey style skates.
Although ski donations are not being accepted, skates can be donated, as long as they’re hockey skates in good conditions. The sizes most needed are men’s 8, 9, and 10. Those can be dropped off at the Augustana Fitness Centre with name and contact information.
To go along with the equipment, there will also be programming put in place. There will be Learn to Ski and Learn to Skate programs rolled out in the New Year.
“Programming will include instruction and encouragement from the Nordic and hockey teams,” said Mah, adding that, “the ‘learn to’ opportunities are critical parts of our larger plan to encourage campus rec involvement.”

The Art of Going Down… To Australia to Play Hockey

by CAROLYN VENTER

Ever heard of the AIHL? Of course you haven’t. It’s the Australian Ice Hockey League. The current champions of the league are the Newcastle North Stars, and Augustana has some claim to their fame. Beau Taylor, Scott Swiston, and Connor McLaughlin all played for the league this past summer. “We rented a tent truck and drove up the east coast. We went sky diving and even ended up setting off the sprinklers and flooding the parking lot of the Sydney opera house.”

“Yeah my summer wasn’t much fun either” I offered. When I asked them how they replicated the magic of Australia in Camrose, Alberta, they stated “Well, it’s very different. Winter in Australia still gets up to 21 degrees and they play European style hockey.” They explained that the European style was a lot cleaner so I asked them if they enjoyed the violence in hockey that is more present in Canada. “Yeah, as much as people want to get rid of it, it’s part of the game,” said Beau.

“Players will take your number and get you back later” said Scott.

I will say that I went to my first hockey game in four years last Friday and ended up chanting “Now beat him with your stick!” all the while Dean Berger was only four seats away from me.

It’s the players last year at Augustana this year and upon asking them what their future plans were they stated that they wanted to play professional hockey in Europe. “What if that doesn’t work out?” I asked rudely.

“Well, I’ll probably do the big boy thing and get a job,” replied Scott. Let’s hope for these boys, and so many others at Augustana, that it doesn’t come to that.

Fun fact, both Scott and Beau’s most inspiring person is a man called Elon Musk. For those of us who aren’t business majors, he is the inventor of PayPal! So if you love hockey, violence, people who have been to Australia, and PayPal, you should come check out the ‘bromance on ice’ as I now like to refer to hockey. Beau states “We’ve played together for five years now and it would be nice to have one more championship with Augustana under our belt.”

hockey