by Ali Lee,
(ISN) – VICTORIA, B.C. – The University of Victoria Vikes women’s basketball team are still on the hunt for their first CIS national championship appearance since 2005. 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, 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. Giannattasio joins former high school teammate and forward Jenna Bugiardini. Bugiardini is easily the team’s consistent leading scorer and was a 2011-12 CIS All-Rookie team member and conference Rookie of the Year.
Point guard and fifth year Cassandra Goodis 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. Goodis and Renfrew are the long seniors on the team and are expected to find their post-secondary peak this season. Guards Jenna Krugand Shaylyn Crisp will also be pivotal in the Vikes’ success this year, as the pair have both shown their ability to provide critical two-way play.
The Vikes have only two players over six-feet, Nicole Karstein and rookie Amy Sprangers both at six-foot-one, but where the team may 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 had six pre-season games in hopes of finding her winning combination of players on the court, while giving experience to her many new comers. The Vikes finished with a 4-2 pre-season record. Joining Sinclair on the pine are assistant 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.
The Vikes women went 4-2 in their 2014 pre-season campaign including wins over Guelph, Vancouver Island University and Western, while conceding losses to McMaster and Ryerson. The Vikes will open their Canada West season with a double header against Regina at UVic’s McKinnon Gym on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1. Following the pre-season coaches polls, the Vikes ranked No. 5, while the Cougars are ranked No. 4. UBC lead the polls, while Alberta and Saskatchewan were ranked second and third, respectively.
2013-14 Regular Season Record: 15-7 (3rd, Pacific)
2014 Playoff Record: 0-2 (Lost in QFs)
Last CW Championship: 1999-00
Last CIS Championship: 2002-03
CW Ranking: 5
Key Additions: G Amira Giannattasio, G Sherrie Errico, F Amy Sprangers, G Kristy Gallagher, F Paige Thomson
Key Returnees: G Cassandra Goodis, F Jessica Renfrew, F Jenna Bugiardini, G Shaylyn Crisp, G Jenna Krug, FNicole Karstein
Key Departures: G Jenny Lewis, F Sarah Semeniuk, F Allison Mulock