WINNIPEG — After taking a season off, head coach Garth Pischke is back on the bench to coach his 33rd year with the Manitoba Bisons.
The men’s volleyball squad begins the 2014-15 Canada West season at home tonight to face the visiting Calgary Dinos. The Bisons finished 8th overall last season in the conference and didn’t qualify for the post-season.
“I’m looking forward to it very much,” Pischke said on his return. “A year off is a long time and I missed it — I really did. You’re always questioning yourself whether you still have the drive and intensity to do it.”
Middle hitter Kenny Rooney, 20, left side hitter Kevin Falconer, 20, and left side hitter Adam DeJonckheere,18, have been named co-captains this season.
“The captains were selected by the players and they choose guys that will communicate with me during the matches. All three are solid leaders on and off the court,” Pischke said.
The entire starting seven on the Bisons’ roster is back, with no key departures noted going into the team’s season.
“Pretty much everybody is in the same boat as they were last year and they understand that. It can’t just come from me, it has to come from the other guys on the floor and each individual themselves. They all have to buy into the fact that every point is important.”
On the women’s side of the game, right side hitter Rachel Cockrell, 22, and setter Brittany Habing, 22, have been named co-captains. It’s Cockrell’s third consecutive season in the role and Habing’s first.
“These two players are extremely hard working and respected by teammates and the coaching staff,” said head coach Ken Bentley. “They have shown dedication to the program and the university and are leaders on and off the court.”
The Bisons also have two notable newcomers this season in left side Kalena Schulz and left side Lexi Janovcik. Both were national all-star award winners as part of the 18U national and provincial championship Cobras Volleyball Club in 2014. Schulz also held the title of team captain.
The women are national defending CIS champions heading into this season, where they also open up against Calgary.
Game times are tonight and Friday at 6 p.m. (women) and 8 p.m. (men) at Investors Group Athletic Centre on the U of M’s Fort Garry campus.