Volleyball teams begin play Friday

The York University Lions men’s and women’s volleyball teams will see their first real action of the season this weekend when they play their first Ontario University Athletics (OUA) conference games against the University of Waterloo Warriors on Friday night. The women begin at 6pm and the men will follow at 8pm.

The women’s volleyball team is entering the 2009-2010 season as the defending OUA champions but the squad hitting the court this year is vastly different from the one that celebrated a gold medal on home court this past February.

Right: The York Lions women’s volleyball team shows off their winning form during a recent match

In addition to a change at head coach – former assistant Nick Tran has stepped into the leading role – the Lions graduated four starting players from last season’s lineup, all of them all-stars and award winners last year.

Another 18-1 regular-season record may be difficult to achieve but the women on this year’s squad are talented and have the desire and work ethic necessary to keep the program at the top of the standings.

“It is going to be a character-building year for us but that is going to make us stronger,” said Tran. “This is a new team so to achieve a high level we have to work that much harder.”

The men’s team has also undergone significant changes but is much improved from the team that finished 3-17 one year ago. Twelve athletes with OUA playing experience are back, including nine from last year’s roster, and the squad is older this year with the return of veteran student-athletes that did not play last year. Still, the Lions are one of the youngest teams in the highly-competitive OUA.

“There’s quite a bit of optimism as we enter the season, but we are fully aware that most teams in the OUA have also improved from last year,” said head coach Wally Dyba. “The major question is whether we have improved enough to challenge for a playoff spot. This may be one of the most competitive years ever in the OUA.”

Following the season openers at home, the men’s team will travel to Hamilton to face the two-time defending OUA champion the McMaster University Marauders on Saturday night at 8pm. The women will stay home and welcome the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees to the Tait McKenzie Centre on Sunday for an afternoon affair at 1pm. The next home doubleheader is on Sunday, Nov. 1 when the Lions will face the Queen’s University Gaels beginning at 1pm for the women and 3pm for the men.

Also on the home schedule this week are men’s hockey games on tonight at 7pm against the University of Ontario Institute of Technology Ridgebacks and on Saturday afternoon at 2pm against the Wilfrid Laurier University Golden Hawks.

The men’s and women’s water polo teams will see their first OUA action of the season against the University of Toronto Varsity Blues tonight at 7:15pm for the women and 8:45pm for the men. The badminton team will play its first home contest of the year against the Ryerson University Rams on Saturday morning beginning at 10am.

For more information on all Lions teams, click here.