By Ali Lee,
(ISN) – VICTORIA, B.C. – The University of Victoria Vikes women’s basketball team are just two weeks away from the opening of their Canada West season and with little time to spare they are heading East for some pre-season tuning. The Vikes will play three exhibition games, Oct. 17-19, in Ontario, against McMaster, Western and Ryerson.
With six players from last year’s squad not returning, including six-foot-three forward Sarah Semeniuk, guard Jenny Lewis and senior Allison Mulock, the Vikes will be poised to make a big entrance into the Canada West this year. Seven freshmen suit up for the Vikes but several of those players have already shown their capability to play like veterans.
Among the rookie class is guard Amira Giannattasio (Hamilton, Ont.) who, despite her five-foot-five status, has logged critical pre-season minutes and shown her ability to defend and score from all over the floor. With a minor pre-season injury to senior Jessica Renfrew (Victoria, B.C.), several players have had the opportunity to show case their ability to lead on the floor including several moments for guards Jenna Krug (North Vancouver, B.C.) and Shaylyn Crisp(Victoria, B.C.).
Point guard and fifth year Cassandra Goodis (Penticton, B.C.) will return to command the floor. Last season Goodis led the Canada West in assists, averaging 5.4 per game, and lead the Vikes in steals, averaging 2.3 per game.
The Vikes have only two players over six-feet, Nicole Karstein (Kamloops, B.C.) and rookie Amy Sprangers (Langley, B.C.) both at six-foot-one, but where they lack in height, they make up for in speed and versatility.
Former Vike and CIS national champion, Dani Sinclair, enters her second season as head coach of the Vikes. Sinclair expects to use these final three pre-season matches to find her winning combination of players on the court, while giving experience to her many new comers. Joining her on the pine areassistant coaches Leanne Evans, a former UBC stand out and two-time CIS national champion, as well as Brett Westcott, known for his long-time coaching commitments to Camosun College and island high school basketball.
To date the Vikes are currently undefeated in their pre-season games including back-to-back wins, Oct. 3-4, over the Guelph Gryphons, 66-51 and 74-59, while the team added a 94-54 win over Vancouver Island University on Oct. 8.
The Vikes will open their Ontario road swing with a game against the McMaster Marauders on Oct. 17. The Marauders graduated five key players from last year’s squad but retain the talents of OUA All-Star Danielle Boiago. Last season McMaster finished fourth in the West Division of the OUA with a 13-9 record.
On Oct. 18, the Vikes will visit the Western Mustangs who were second in the OUA West last season with a 16-6 record. Western graduates CIS First Team All-Canadian Jenny Vaughan but returns Mackenzie Puklicz who was named to last year’s CIS All-Rookie team. Western will also showcase a young roster with 13 players in their first or second year.
The Vikes will wrap up with a game against Ryerson on Oct. 19. The Rams women enter this weekend with back-to-back pre-season wins over Algoma and Allegheny College. Last season Ryerson finished fifth in the OUA East with a 9-13 record. Fourth-year guard Keneca Pingue-Giles was the only Rams player to get the nod from the OUA last year earning East Division All-Star honours.
The Vikes will tip off on Oct. 17 against McMaster (8 a.m.), Oct. 18 against Western (12 p.m.) and Oct. 19 against Ryerson (9 a.m.). Games will not be broadcast with live stats or video.