Rat­tlers women ready to con­tend

Medicine Hat News - - SPORTS - RYAN MCCRACKEN rm­c­cracken@medicine­hat­news.com Twit­ter: MHN McCracken

The Medicine Hat Rat­tlers women’s vol­ley­ball team is ready to con­tend for the top of the Al­berta Col­leges Ath­letic Con­fer­ence.

Af­ter go­ing through the mo­tions of a re­build over the past few sea­sons, out­side hit­ter Brooke Christie says the Rat­tlers are en­ter­ing the 2018-19 cam­paign with a new level of con­fi­dence.

“I think we’ve found a lineup that clicks re­ally well to­gether,” said Christie, whose Rat­tlers open the ACAC sea­son with game against the Bron­cos tonight and Satur­day in Olds. “And hav­ing girls that can back you up is def­i­nitely good.”

The Rat­tlers wel­come seven new faces to this year’s lineup, but bring back a wealth of vet­eran tal­ent, like third-year out­side hit­ters Christie and Janelle Ney­ron, fourth-year libero Shaya Suchy and fourth-year out­side hit­ter Am­ber Stigter.

Stigter led the Rat­tlers of­fen­sively last sea­son with 3.25 kills per set, while re­turn­ing set­ter Rachel Ste­wart led the team with 7.78 as­sists per set and Suchy headed up the de­fence with 3.82 digs per set — 1.50 more than any of her team­mates.

Christie added the team was able to mesh well through their pre-sea­son sched­ule, es­pe­cially when it comes to build­ing chem­istry with the team’s new­est play­ers.

“We have a few first-years and then we have a lot of re­turn­ing girls, so that’s nice,” said Christie. “Pick­ing up girls that just fit in in­stantly made things re­ally good com­ing in.

“Right away you don’t have to do too much work with them, they just fit in per­fectly.”

The Rat­tlers closed out last sea­son with a 7-17 record — af­ter go­ing 4-20 the year be­fore — earn­ing them a sixth-place fin­ish in the South Di­vi­sion ahead of only the win­less 0-24 Olds Bron­cos.

Af­ter kick­ing off the sea­son in Olds this week­end the Rat­tlers meet up with the Am­brose Lions for a home-and-home set, start­ing next Fri­day in Caron­port be­fore clos­ing out with Medicine Hat’s home opener next Satur­day at the Snake Pit.

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