Clippers aim for deep playoff run

Katie Brickman
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Veterans lead women’s volleyball team on and off court

Nolan Weinmaster has been the head coach for the Briercrest Clippers women’s volleyball team for eight years.

Starlet Petersen of the Briercrest Clippers bumps a ball during first half Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference action. Submitted photo

For the first time since he joined the organization, the club has their best record in the first half of the season with a 7-3 finish.

“We’ve been 6-4 after the first semester before, but this was the best record we’ve had,” said Weinmaster. “Overall, it was good. We lost a couple matches that I feel we should have lost, but I think we learned some good things from that as well.”

The biggest positive for Weinmaster was beating some of the top ranked teams in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC).

“The last weekend before Christmas, we played Grand Prairie, who was the No. 2 ranked team at the time. We beat them in both games that weekend. That was a huge positive for us going into the break,” said Weinmaster. “Earlier in the semester, the first weekend, we played Grant MacEwan and we took a game off them. That was a big win for us as well.”

The Clippers sit tied for third place in the ACAC standings, just six points out of top spot.

The strength of this team has been their identity and a strong finish last year that saw them gain confidence.

“I think the biggest thing is that we were able to return the entire starting lineup from last year. We returned nine players overall, which is the most we have had returned before,” stated Weinmaster. “So, having more veterans than rookies just helps us progress a lot faster in the first half.”

In past years, the first semester has been about figuring out the identity of the team, the starting lineup and getting a system in place. This year, they have been able to pick up where they left off last year and grow on their successes.

Since the Clippers have four players in their third and fourth years, that veteran leadership will hopefully pay off heading into the second half of the season.

Playoffs is the goal of this Clippers team, with sights set on being in the top six to get a bye in the first round.

“I believe that we can finish in the top three,” stated Weinmaster. “Our goal in the first semester was to win eight out of 10 games and we won seven. That is going to be our goal in the second half too. I think we are capable of doing that. If we do that, we should finish in the top three or four heading into the conference championship.”

Last year, the Clippers surged late in the second half of the season and won their first game in the qualification round last year and had a good battle in their quarterfinal game against the top ranked team. The major difference was experience level, something they don’t think is an issue this year.

“We have a couple of players now in their fourth year and everyone else on the starting lineup is in their second year or above. I think the biggest thing with that is that we have playoff experience last year,” said Weinmaster. “It will be exciting to enter playoffs since we have had success in past and have been there before.”

The Clippers return to action this weekend on the road in Lethbridge.

Follow me on Twitter @katiebrickman.

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