Photo and Story Credit: Brad McLeod
Heading into the weekend, there are a few guarantees for the College of the Rockies women's volleyball team.
No matter what happens, they will enter the PACWEST Provincial Championships in sixth place and they will not have the services of Alexa Koshman.
The team's star player, who can play libero or power hitter, Koshman is wrapping up her fourth and final season with the Avs after their weekend matches against the University of Fraser Valley Cascades.
"I'm staying back just because I'm doing my practicum right now [and] I'm in the middle of it," Koshman told the Townsman. "It was a hard decision to [make], but I'm hanging up my jersey this weekend.
"It's a little bit more emotional for me this weekend, just because I know it's my end, [but] I'm going to try to send the girls into provincials on a high note and go out with a bang."
The only remaining member of the Avs 2015-16 team that defied the odds as a sixth-seed and won a Provincial championship, Koshman brings a lot to the floor. Despite missing the majority of the first semester with injuries, she is the team leader in digs-per-set with 3.49 (fourth in the league) and aces-per-set with 0.35.
For her career, Koshman is second in Avs history in total sets played, first all-time in digs with 1,145 and fifth in ace serves with 51. She also has a mantle full of trophies, including the Avalanche Rookie of the Year award (2015), three Avalanche awards (2015, 2016, 2017), an Avalanche MVP award (2017) and a number of conference accolades as well.
"I have mixed emotions about it," Koshman said, of playing her final weekend. "I'm excited that I'm moving on and going forward, but it'll be hard this weekend… I've made so many incredible friendships, being here for four years, including the people who have already left, the people who are staying, and the people who are leaving [at the same time].
"Overall, I'm feeling pretty good about it [though]. I'm excited."
While COTR hasn't exactly been tearing it up down the stretch, with only one win in their past six matches, a five-set loss to top-in-Canada ranked Douglas College last week, should be a good sign for a strong finish.
And while Koshman won't have a direct impact past this weekend, she should be able to inspire them in her swan song.
"Anything can happen, and I've been through it, going in as a sixth seed," she said. "[I just need to] reinforce in the girls that, honestly, standings is just a number. It has no impact on provincials. It's a whole new ball game, as soon as you get to provincials.
"If they give it everything they have, we're neck in neck with anyone."
As for the matches against UFV, while COTR lost their previous showdowns in November, the teams should match up well. Fresh off a 3-1 loss to the Vancouver Island Mariners, UFV is in third-place in the PACWEST with a 12-8 record.
Depending on how the games go, the teams could meet on Friday, Saturday and then again in the first game of the Provincial tournament.
UFV is led offensively by first-year left side hitter Amanda Matsui, who is fourth in the conference with an average of 3.15 kills-per-set, and also leads all players in ace serves with 44 in 66 sets.
The Cascades also have three of the league's top ten dig-leaders, with Matsui joined by third-year player Cassidy King, and fourth-year Kim Bauder.
For the Avs, in addition to Koshman, the team has one of the league's best offensive players in Megan Beckett. A veteran third-year, Beckett has 223 kills in 76 sets, and had a season-high 22 kills last Saturday.
The women kick off their weekend on Friday at 6 p.m., with the men's match following them at 8 p.m. They then play again the following afternoon on Saturday at 1 p.m.
The 2018 PACWEST Provincial tournament will be held from February 22 to 24.