© NIGEL ARMSTRONG/THE GUARDIAN
After a few years away from competitive volleyball, Olivia Dolphin, 26, of Elmwood is back with the Holland College Hurricanes. The 'Canes will be taking part in the Atlantic Collegiate Athletic Association championships this weekend in Saint John, N.B., before hosting the nationals, March 9-12.
Olivia Dolphin just wanted to compete again.
Six years after playing one year of Atlantic University Sport volleyball with UPEI, Dolphin was aching to get back on the court.
So, she approached Holland College leading up to this season.
Little did she know that she wasn't just joining what would be one of the best women's teams in the Atlantic Collegiate Athletic Association (ACAA) but she was guaranteed a berth in the nationals.
After UPEI dropped out of the AUS, Dolphin went into coaching, guiding Queen Charlotte Intermediate School for two years before moving on the Colonel Gray.
"It was a really great experience, but I really missed playing . . . . This was the only school in the area that had competitive volleyball so I approached the school and went from there,'' says the 26-year-old Elmwood resident who plays left side.
Dolphin, who won a provincial gold medal with Bluefield High School, had no idea Holland College was hosting the women's volleyball national championship, March 9-12.
"It's a huge opportunity, but it actually didn't influence my choice (to play with Holland College). I wanted to come and play anyway. (Nationals) was a huge bonus. I actually didn't know that we were hosting nationals when I decided to play. I really wanted to play.''
A berth in the nationals is obviously guaranteed but, as the cliché goes, Dolphin isn't thinking past the ACAA championship in Saint John, N.B., this weekend.
"She was easy to coach and wanted to learn. Olivia then continued to play in our senior women's league but needed more. She did a great job of staying in shape and has now come to be one of the 'Canes best. She is calm and cool, which keeps those around her calm as well.'' Lynn Boudreau, who coached Dolphin in 2008-09 with UPEI's volleyball squad
The women's Hurricanes finished second in the ACAA this season with a team-best 18-3 record while the men's squad wrapped things up at 9-6. The men will also be competing at the ACAAs.
Dolphin says she hasn't even thought about whether there is any less pressure going into this weekend knowing the team is guaranteed a trip to nationals.
"Winning is the goal, right? That's what we're going to be playing to do,'' she said, referring to the ACAA championship.
Lynn Boudreau, who coached Dolphin at UPEI, says Dolphin came in as a raw high school player, who had tonnes of potential and was strong as an ox.
"She was easy to coach and wanted to learn,'' Boudreau said, also noting that the team pulled out of the AUS after Dolphin's only season. "Olivia then continued to play in our senior women's league but needed more.
"She did a great job of staying in shape and has now come to be one of the 'Canes best. She is calm and cool, which keeps those around her calm as well.''
Nationals will be a new level of competition for most of the players on the women's team. Dolphin is under no illusions.
"(Most) of us haven't seen that level of competition. We'll be expecting really tough competition, knowing that we have to play our very best to compete. I know if we play to our potential we will be able to compete with the teams at that higher level.''