The Lakehead Thunderwolves are red hot.
Winners of five straight, more important the women’s volleyball team has finally clinched that ever elusive playoff spot, a rarity for a team that regularly pulls up the cellar-dwelling chair in the OUA.
Though it hasn’t exactly come out of the blue, the playoffs are a bit of a surprise said second-year setter Sarah Hudson.
“It’s been awhile,” said Hudson Tuesday, after being named the volleyball team’s athlete of the month for January.
“We finally got our flow together and are making it work this year.”
Hudson, a Winnipeg native, said she’s not sure what Santa left in their stockings at Christmas, but whatever it is has been successful.
The break was a time for physical rest and mental preparation, she added, both of which the team needed a heaping dose of after losing their first six OUA matches and ending the first half with a woeful 3-8 record.
“We knew we had to get this done, we had to push hard to be able to make playoffs and it’s every single player’s dream on this team to be able to do this. The break just gave us the opportunity to prepare ourselves for the second half.”
The Wolves, 8-8 heading into this weekend’s final series, a home date against No. 4-ranked Ottawa, actually started to make strides a year ago, although their record didn’t necessarily suggest that’s what was happening at the time.
“We only won one game last year, but a lot of our losses were very close. We lost a lot of five-set matches. It wasn’t a blowout in every single game like the game-sheet might seem. It’s been a work in progress and this year we just kept it together, finally,” Hudson said.
Making the playoffs has been coach Chris Green’s goal all along. Now in his fourth year at the helm, his teams have struggled, winning seven games in three seasons, one fewer than the Thunderwolves have totaled to date in 2012-13.
Still, he’s not shocked at the turnaround.
“It’s not a surprise for us because we’ve felt that had we been healthy last year, we had a chance to do it last year, which was ahead of schedule,” Green said. “But it is what it is and we’re looking forward to it. Ottawa’s going to be a good test because we’re going to face Ottawa in a week – or York.”
Offensively, he added, the Thunderwolves are attacking efficiently and scoring when it counts.
When that happens, anything’s possible, he said.
“We have the kind of team that can compete with any team. We have to make sure we’re on top of what their weaknesses are and attack those. And we have to be very on top of what their strengths are and line up accordingly. This team can do a lot of things,” Green said.
The Wolves and Gee-Gees will play a doubleheader on Sunday, as Ottawa was delayed getting to Thunder Bay because of stormy weather in southern Ontario. Game times are 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. at the Thunderdome.
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