2009-10 Canada West womens volleyball preview
by Canada West Women's Volleyball Sports Information Offices
The CIS women's volleyball championship will be played in Edmonton, at the University of Alberta, March 4-6, 2010. The host Pandas and three other conference contenders will go against eastern competitors for gold in an event that has seen a non-Canada West team win it all just seven times since 1970.
The UBC Thunderbirds are two-time defending CIS champions and look well-rounded once again. CIS championship MVP Kyla Richey is the standout leader, joined by Canada West Libero of the Year Claire Hanna, All-Star Liz Cordonier, All-Star Jen Hinze and championship All-Star Shanice Marcelle. Katie Tyzuk is a senior also expected to make substantial contributions.
Calgary Dinos head coach Jesse Knight hopes his team can overcome the loss of four top players, including MVP Holly Harper. Fifth-year middles Laura Spence and Laura Littlejohn head up a squad that includes Raynell Lavertu and sophomore Lindsey Doland, who will do her best to replace Harper.
After falling back slightly last season, the Manitoba Bisons have the talent to make a return to Nationals, led by Canadian National team members Ashley Voth and Sam Loewen. Voth is a former All-Canadian who suffered earl-season injuries in 2008-09, while Loewen was named a Second Team All-Star. All-Canadian left side hitter Sarah Morrissette and left side hitter Kate Wasyliw are further examples of the star power the Bisons possess.
National teamer Lauren O'Reilly and third-year Chelsea Hudson are the Trinity Western Spartans' top setters, with Andrea Ball at libero and fifth-year right side Kim Klassen and outside Kara Jansen Van Doorn back to pace the offensive attack.
A completely revamped roster awaits the Alberta Pandas. Jocelyn Blair, Daryll Roper, Samantha Wojtkiw, Alexa Berton, Stacey Robertson and Kelcie French are no longer with the team. Instead it will be fourth-year Tiffany Proudfoot expected to lead. Sophomore setter Jaki Ellis and right-side hitter Meggie Moir are key to any success, but this has to be classified as a rare rebuilding year for the Pandas.
The Brandon Bobcats improved by four wins in 2008-09 and are poised to benefit from the post-season experience. All-Star Teagan Hunter, Erin Visch-Krahn, Becky Young, Nicole Ban and Sara Grona are all corps veterans who return to spark what may be a budding Canada West power. Nicole Ban returns from a knee injury, and several student transfers will join the 'Cats for the new season.
Regina Cougars head coach Melanie Sanford has a team that is strong, but continually faces the challenges of being in an eternally difficult conference. They do have the potential to move up the ladder. Fifth-year middle blocker Beth Clark is the school's rally-point era leader in both career blocks and service aces. Middle Solveig Nilson, setter Tiffany Herman are returning veterans, with departed Kelly Cowan's libero position to be taken over by either Megan Semeniuk or Rebecca Rink.
The Thompson Rivers WolfPack had the best season of their short Canada West history last year and aim to move even closer to a playoff position. Third-year outside hitters Amanda Frayne and Kelly Asleson and, after sitting out part of 2008-09 due to transfer eligibility requirements, outside hitter Anna Dyakewicz will provide a season-long spark on offence.
The Simon Fraser Clan begin their final CWUAA season with a chance of making the playoffs, led by fifth-year student-athletes Krystyna Adams at left side and Colleen Douville on the right. Setter Stephanie Senges was the team's assist leader last year. The roster boasts several other veteran players and has the experience to stay in the playoff hunt all season long.
Interim Saskatchewan Huskies head coach Austin Dyer has a team that went just 3-17 in 2008-09, but looks to make strides and edge closer to a post-season berth. Fifth-year middle blocker Danae Lockert is the squad's leader. Outside hitter Ashley Schurko and libero Shauna Weber have also have solid CIS experience.
The Winnipeg Wesmen have nowhere to go but up after posting just one match victory last year. CIS All-Rookie team member Ariel Smith is the team's hope now and for years to come. Middle blockers Alix Krahn and Lauren Sears took part in the Canada Summer Games in P.E.I. and have the talent to emerge as team leaders. Coach Diane Scott looks for Leah Brezinski to step up her game, while a list of recruits will gain valuable experience playing against the best teams in the country.
2008-09 conference record: 16-4 (1st)
2009 CW playoffs: 0-2 (4th)
Last CW title: 2007-08
Last CIS title: 2006-07
It's never easy to follow up a first-place regular season finish, and it's even harder when a team loses five starters and Canada West All-Stars, and six players overall, but that is the 2009-10 scenario for the Alberta Pandas.
Despite earning the right to host the 2009 Canada West Final Four, from which three teams advanced to the national championship, the Pandas could not win the conference banner, losing both games at home to finish in fourth place, and out of contention for the CIS hardware.
Last season Laurie Eisler's squad went 16-4 in regular season, and lost a conference low 20 sets to play to finish atop the conference table. Eisler was named the Canada West and CIS coach of the Year, fifth-year players Daryll Roper and Jocelyn Blair were named CIS First Team All-Canadians, and freshman Kelcie French was named the conference rookie of the year, and to the CIS All-Rookie team.
Gone from that team are starting fifth-year players Blair, Roper, and middle Samantha Wojtkiw, as well as starting fourth-year middle Alexa Berton and senior Libero Stacey Robertson. French, who would have been entering her second season, also did not come back.
The 2009 Pandas will be a much younger team with only one fifth-year player and five players in either their first or second year of eligibility. There are three players in their fourth year and two in their third year, so there is still experience and leadership to go around.
Fourth-year returning starter Tiffany Proudfoot will be the Pandas main attack weapon from the left-side position. The Calgary native finished third in kills on the team last year, with 181, one season after she finished second on Alberta's roster with 171. Last season she finished seventh in Canada West aces, with 25, and also recorded 144 digs and 19 blocks.
She'll be joined on the attack by sophomore setter Jaki Ellis and right-side hitter Meggie Moir.
Ellis, a native of Mississauga, Ont., joined the Pandas last season and apprenticed under Roper and has spent time with Canada's National Junior team.
Moir, a Cold Lake, AB native, is in her fourth year of eligibility, and third year with the Pandas. She spent one season in the NCAA with the Boston College Eagles, and was a member of the Alberta Provincial team from 2003 to 2005. Over the past two seasons she has seen limited duty with Alberta, but can be counted on to help lead the Panda attack this season.
Alberta's new starting middles are a pair of sophomores in Camille Wallace and Krista Zubick. Wallace, originally from Vancouver, has played for the National Youth team, while Zubick, originally from St. Albert, played for the Alberta U-17 team.
2008-09 conference record: 12-8 (6th)
2009 CW playoffs: 0-2 (t-5th)
Last CW title: none
Last CIS title: none
"Last year, we learned what it takes to be a playoff team," said BU head coach Lee Carter. "Now we need to continue with that growth and expect more out of ourselves." The Bobcats ended last year's season at the Canada West playoffs in British Columbia.
Coach Carter is returning for his fifth year at Brandon University. The Bobcats have a solid corps of returning players this season which include Erin Visch-Krahn, Teagan Hunter, Becky Young, Nicole Ban and Sara Grona.
Visch-Krahn returns for her fifth and final season with the 'Cats. She is the last player left from the Bobcats' inaugural season five years ago. "Erin has been a main stay on the team. It would be fitting to have her leave with an appearance in the Final Four and Nationals," says Carter.
Becky Young and Teagan Hunter are each entering their fourth years with the Bobcats. Hunter was a Canada West Second Team All-Star last year and Young is one of the top setters in the division. Both of these athletes are expected to have strong leadership roles this year. "They have been through a lot of different situations their first three seasons," confirms Carter, "It's now time for them to pick the team up and be a strong part of our identity."
The local talent continues as recruits Kellie Baker and Lindsay Mclaughlin are both starting their first year with the Bobcats. "These athletes have had great coaching all the way through their programs and understand how to compete and win. We are excited and proud to have them for their university years," exclaimed Coach Carter.
Also returning are Manitobans Nicole Clemons, Brittany Macleod and Kalee Kartzmark. Nicole Clemons will fill the vacant libero role left by Janelle Wotton. The Bobcats will also be tracking the progress of Nicole Ban this season as she returns from a knee injury.
Carter also added some depth in transfers Jaryn Ruether, Claire Willerton and Tessa Geurts. Willerton comes to Brandon from the University of Winnipeg, Ruether is from Grande Prairie College and Tessa transferred from Mount Royal College - she will bring depth to the libero position.
Last year, the Lady 'Cats took a giant step forward by qualifying for the post-season for their second straight year. This season is full of new and greater expectations.
2008-09 conference record: 15-5 (3rd)
2009 CW playoffs: 4-0 (1st)
2009 CIS tournament: 3-0 (1st)
Last CW title: 2008-09
Last CIS title: 2008-09
The two-time defending CIS champion UBC Thunderbirds come into this season with a squad that returns five of seven starters from the CIS championship final and will be challenging for top spot in the conference once again.
Last season the T-Birds battled through injuries and a sluggish start to claim their second CIS straight title that came at the end of a 15-match winning streak to close out the season.
The emergence of Kyla Richey as one of top attackers in the conference was one of the keys to UBC's success last season. She hit double digits in kills in all but one of UBC's regular season games after the mid-season break and was named the CIS championship MVP after racking 18 kills in the gold medal final.
In addition to Richey, the T-Birds also have the offensive services of former All-Canadian and 2008-09 CW All-Star Liz Cordonier (3.00 kills/game), CW All-Star Jen Hinze (1.84 kills/game and a .342 hitting percentage) and CIS All-Rookie team member and CIS championship All-Star Shanice Marcelle. Fifth-year setter Katie Tyzuk returns to guide this talented offence after her first year at the helm last season.
UBC's success over the past two years, however, hasn't been all about offensive firepower.
Despite losing two important middles in Marisa Field, a 2008-09 CIS All-Canadian, and Natalie Eades, UBC head coach Doug Reimer is committed to sticking to the ‘defence first' mentality that has paid off for his side over the past two seasons.
"One of the goals we identified in our first team meeting this year was to maintain that high level of team defence based around strong blocking," said Reimer. "It seems to have worked well for us over the past couple of years and it has to be a high priority for us if we want to maintain our success in Canada West."
Canada West Libero of the Year Claire Hanna is the key returnee on the defensive side of the ball for UBC, as she led the conference with 4.37 digs per game last year.
The T-Birds have five first-year players this season, including two new middles in Nicky Osborne and Jessica Von Schilling, who will have to play big roles in UBC's defensive strategy. Osborne has captained the British National team for the last four years while Von Schiiling is a talented up and comer who gained valuable experience last season as a red-shirt with UBC.
Reimer knows that before the T-Birds can think about bringing home another CIS gold medal, they have to focus on the task at hand - surviving conference play.
"Playing against the tough competition in the regular season can benefit you, but you have to be able to survive through the playoffs. We have to keep our priority on preparation and performance throughout the season and conference playoffs before we look ahead to anything we want to do at Nationals."
2008-09 conference record: 16-4 (2nd)
2009 CW playoffs: 3-1 (3rd)
2009 CIS tournament: 2-1 (2nd)
Last CW title: 2005
Last CIS title: 2004
"The great thing about our program is that we reload, we don't rebuild, and I think that's evident with our pre-season record and the fact that we're ranked number four in the nation."
Second-year head coach Jesse Knight is nothing if not confident with his Dinos women's volleyball program with the 2009-10 season just around the corner.
The Dinos, who took the scenic route to last year's CIS silver medal finish - a 3-2 win over Alberta in Edmonton to qualify for the national tournament, then another five-set win over previously undefeated Montreal to advance to the national final - lost their top four outside hitters from 2008-09. Holly Harper, Lauren Perry, and Julie Young all graduated, while third-year National team power hitter Laura Wilson underwent knee surgery in the off-season and will be unavailable until the fall of 2010.
Despite such wholesale change, Knight likes the look of his group as they head to Edmonton to open against the Alberta Pandas this weekend. Calgary posted a 7-3 record in the preseason, winning the annual Regina tournament and going 2-1 against the Pandas so far.
"It's a new team, a new character, and we're going to evolve as a different group," he said. "We've already met some tough challenges, and I really like the character of this group."
Veteran leadership will come in the form of fifth-year middles Laura Spence and Laura Littlejohn, with Raynell Lavertu swinging from the left side after three years as the team's libero. Spence, who blossomed into a significant role with the team last season, made the Canadian team for the FISU Games in Serbia this summer.
"The transformation of Laura Spence has been unbelievable," Knight said. "She's always been a quiet, do-her-own-thing sort of leader, but now she's speaking out in pre-games and time outs. She's always been a great blocking middle, but she's become pretty versatile offensively, too.
"Ray (Lavertu) is taking on a completely different challenge, but she's such a talented player," he continued. "A point is a point, and she's going to find her way to score. She hasn't played that position for about three years, so it'll be exciting to see where she is at the end of the season compared to where she is now."
The task of filling in for Harper, the 2008-09 Canada West player of the year, falls to sophomore Lindsey Doland, and the Dinos have hardly skipped a beat.
"Lindsey is doing just as good a job as Holly was for us last year," said Knight. "She has tremendous offence, but she's been extremely good for us defensively with her blocking.
Another young player that will see significant playing time is rookie Newfoundlander Maura Hayes, a veteran of the Junior National team.
"Maura passes and handles the ball really well, she can do a lot of great things, and she's a great athlete," Knight said.
In a season of change in Canada West, the Dinos will look to extend the longest active streak in the nation of attending CIS championships by qualifying for their 10th straight national tournament in Edmonton.
"You don't look at things for just one year, and I always look at the three- or four-year plan for this team," said Knight. "At the same time, you can't be happy with or accept anything less than your best performance. There's a balance between not losing sight of improving and progressing, but also performing at our best on any given night."
2008-09 conference record: 13-7 (5th)
2009 CW playoffs: 0-2 (t-5th)
Last CW title: none
Last CIS title: 2001-02
The Manitoba Bisons might be the best CIS team not to have qualified for the CIS Nationals each of the last two seasons. Despite numerous accolades individually and several big victories as a squad, the Bisons have fallen short of the desire goal to compete for a national championship.
For 2009-10 Manitoba will have a veteran-laden group back yet have no fifth-years in the roster. The 11-member lineup includes three players in their fourth season, four players in their third season, three sophomore players and one freshman.
In his 24th season with the Bisons head coach Ken Bentley was proud that the nucleus of the team has returned for another shot at the Nationals and has recommitted and reinvested in the challenge ahead. Despite the recent past disappointments, Bentley and the team has not place too much emphasize on the Nationals and has stressed hard work and trying to improve throughout the season while letting the results be the by-product of their effort. One difference seen by Bentley is the group recognition to be a closer unit and their priority to remain a tighter and cohesive team throughout the season.
The team is led by Canadian National team members Ashley Voth and Sam Loewen. Both players have continued to shine at the national and international level. Fourth-year left/right side hitter Voth looks to continue her strong second half of the 2008-09 season as she battled early injuries and was still tops in conference hitting percentage last season. Third-year setter Loewen was named 2008-09 Canada West Second Team All-Star as she was second in Canada West in assists last season.
Along with those, the team has numerous returning players starting with 2008-09 CIS All-Canadian fourth-year left side hitter Sarah Morrissette, who finished first in Canada West in kills (3.93 per game), in conference points (4.27), eight in conference digs (2.99) and 10th with a .294 hitting percentage last season. Third-year left side hitter Kate Wasyliw was second in team kills and first in service ace and looks to be in even more dominant this season; third-year middle Tricia Mayba was eighth in conference blocks and emerging as one of the best middle blockers in the country and fourth-year middle Amy Penner has a strong work ethic and adds veteran experience; third-year hitter Kristi Hunter is a versatile player who can play different positions and along with second-year libero Nicole Hall, both played for Manitoba at the 2009 Canada Games. Bentley commented Hall is the unsung hero of the team and difference-maker.
The only rookie is left side Mariel Garcia who has worked hard and can play all positions plus second-year setter Dayna Roemermann and second-year left side Melissa Unrau have both done a great job with playing time in the 2009 preseason.
Bentley stated this is one of the best teams that he has coached as there is a real positive vibe heading into this season but they still have to prove it on the court. He has been confident with the potential for this season's team and stressed the cohesiveness of the group as a big factor in winning games against top competition all season long.
The veteran group has sights on a top finish in Canada West conference and continues to be one of the elite CIS programs.
2008-09conference record: 10-10 (7th)
2009 CW playoffs: 0-2 (t-5th)
Last CW title: none
Last CIS title: none
After finishing 10-10 in Canada West matches last season, the Regina Cougars have burst out of the gates this year with an 11-3 non-conference record and were rewarded with a No. 7 ranking in the first CIS poll of the season.
"Our players have worked very hard in the offseason to prepare themselves," said head coach Melanie Sanford, who is in her eighth season with the Cougars. "We're very young and very athletic, and I think we could surprise some people this year."
The Cougars will have just a few holes to fill in the lineup, as they lost libero Kelly Cowan and outside hitters Tammy Julé and Lisa Abrahamowicz after productive careers with the team. Cowan played for five years and is the school's rally-point era leader with 1,162 career digs, while Julé ranks No. 1 in career kills (924) and attacks (2693) and No. 3 in digs (657) despite playing only four seasons with Regina.
The team's top returning player is fifth-year middle blocker Beth Clark, the school's rally-point era leader in both career blocks (263) and service aces (76). Clark, who will serve as the team's co-captain, will be counted upon by Sanford to provide plenty of experience and leadership this season. Joining Clark up the middle will be Solveig Nilson, now in her third season of eligibility. Nilson started all 22 matches at middle for the Cougars, finishing second on the team in total blocks (41) and tied for third in service aces (18).
Tiffany Herman, who started all 22 matches and averaged 9.64 assists per set last season, will return at setter. Herman, in her third season of eligibility, gained invaluable experience with Team Saskatchewan at the Canada Summer Games last season and has been praised by Sanford for her maturation and development as a player. Providing quality depth at the setter position is Kaitlin Zalinko, who redshirted last season after a brief stint at Minot State.
Cowan's libero position will be taken over by either Megan Semeniuk or Rebecca Rink. Semeniuk has had a strong transition to the CIS after starring at Regina's Winston Knoll Collegiate, while Rink is in her third year of eligibility after apprenticing under Cowan for the previous two seasons.
The Cougars have good depth at the outside hitter position despite the loss of Julé and Abrahamowicz. Both Meagan Onstad and Roxanne Olynyk were counted upon in starting roles at various points last season and also represented Saskatchewan at the Canada Summer Games in August. Sanford will also have the services of the versatile Kaitlyn Hughes on the outside, who was actually utilized as a libero for Team Saskatchewan this summer. Jaclyn Johnson, a graduate of Albert E. Peacock Collegiate in Moose Jaw, will provide depth on the outside.
Team co-captain Meagan Smith, who will patrol the right side for the Cougars, is the only other fifth-year player on the team besides Clark. Smith finished third on the team with 147 kills last season and had a team-leading 24 service aces. Also on the right side will be Teal Trehas, a first-year player out of Dr. Martin LeBoldus HS in Regina.
2008-09 conference record: 3-17 (10th, missed playoffs)
Last CW title: 1992
Last CIS title: 1981
The Saskatchewan Huskies will enter the 2009-10 season with an interim coach at the helm.
The team will have much of the same make-up from last season and include new head coach Austin Dyer. Dyer is filling in for 11-year head coach Leslie Irie, who is on leave for the 2009-10 season. Dyer has been an assistant coach with the Huskies as well as a coach for the junior Huskie U-21 program.
After spending five seasons with the Huskies as an assistant coach, Dyer accepted the head coach role with the Lakeland College Lady Rustlers in Lloydminister during the 2008-09 season. He immediately made an impact on the team leading them to a fifth-place finish in the Albert Colleges Athletic Conference - the best in the College's history. He was awarded the ACAC North Coach of the Year award.
"As always, the Canada West will be a difficult conference to play in, but our skill is getting closer to where it needs to be," said Dyer. "With the addition of our recruits, we look forward to seeing how far we can go this season. Each day, we will look to perform to the best of our ability."
The Huskies will have a tough time replacing captain Shannon Usher. Usher, who joined the Huskies in 2003-04, wrapped up her Huskie career on the left side in 2008-09 leading her team in kills (190), service aces (25), digs (206) and points (232.5). She ranked in Canada West's top 10 list for aces, points and digs.
Fifth-year middle blocker Danae Lockert will be looked at for leadership on and off the court. Lockert sat in the conference top 10 in hitting percentage (.295) and blocks (67) in 2008-09. Third-year outside hitter Ashley Schurko and second-year libero Shauna Weber will also be looked at to step forward to help lead the Huskies.
Schurko is emerging as a force on the outside for the Huskies. In 2008-09, she recorded 159 kills, 18 service aces and 171 digs while starting all 20 matches this season for her team. Competing in only 53 sets, rookie Weber stepped in the back row digging up 107 balls.
Joining the team for 2009-10 is setter Erin Foster, outside hitter Candace Hueser, setter Jordyn Ritter and middle blocker Christie Kimber. Hueser played for Saskatchewan's entry at the 2009 Canada Summer Games. All four are provincial champions with club or high school teams.
Simon Fraser Clan
2008-09 conference record: 4-16 (9th, missed playoffs)
Last CW title: none
Last CIS title: none
It's volleyball season again for the Simon Fraser Clan and everyone is feeling positive. With 12 returning students and two fresh faces, head coach Lisa Sulatycki, says that her team is going to do all they can to make the playoffs this year. The Clan finished with a 4-16 record in 2008-09 and Sulatycki knows there is definitely room for improvement in the 2009-10 season.
"Our goal this year is to make the playoffs," says Sulatycki. "Everybody on the team wants to win."
With a strong group of returning players, the team will look up to the leadership of fifth-year students Krystyna Adams (Richmond, B.C. - left side) and Colleen Douville (Creston, B.C. - right side) as well as fourth-year setter Stephanie Senges (Surrey, B.C.). Last year Adams led with a 2.62 kill-per game average, Douville following with a 2.05 average. Senges led the team in assists with a 7.75 average during the 2008-09 season.
Other fifth-year players, middle Sarah McNeil (Prince George, B.C.) and left side Jennifer Northrup (Surrey, B.C.) are expected to set an example of leadership and team unity as they are joined by returning third-year libero/defensive specialist Brianne Kellough (Langley, B.C.) as well as second-year middles Tessa Felix (Mill Bay, B.C.) and Kristjana Fridfinnson (Calgary). Other sophomores expected to make an impact are setter Malena Rapaport (Vancouver), middle Cheryl Windhorst (Surrey) and starting libero Brooke Halvorsen (Surrey).
"It's key that they play as a team and as a unit in order to really compete in each game," added Sulatycki. "Our focus this season is to be positive; we are going to take each game as it comes. If we play each match at our best and focus on truly competing, we can only build from there."
New additions to the team include first-year left side Chelsea Elvy (Powell River, B.C.), who has sat out the past two seasons. Rapaport will be sitting out the first semester as result of an ankle injury sustained during the Canada Games this summer. The rest of the team is seemingly healthy and ready for some competition. Sulatycki is expecting them to step up to the challenge and give it their all each and every game.
Thompson Rivers WolfPack
2008-09 conference record: 6-14 (8th, missed playoffs)
Last CW title: none
Last CIS title: none
The WolfPack enjoyed their best season since they entered the Canada West in 2008-09. Under the direction of interim head coach Cal Wohlford, TRU was into the playoff hunt until the last week of the season. They enjoyed their first success against a nationally ranked squad beating Brandon, at the time No. 3 in CIS in mid-January of 2009.
"I'm living the dream one more year," Wohlford laughs. "I'm very excited. It was really nice to see the program continue to progress to the point it did last year . Carrie Barrett, who resigned her post after going on maternity leave last season, laid the groundwork and we are continuing to build on that."
"We came on so strong at the end of the year," stated Wohlford. "It's exciting to know that the returning girls will come in with a good idea of what it will take to make the playoffs. And, the recruits that are coming in will get a chance to work with the program for an entire year and should contribute significantly."
Wohlford adds the program is still in a building stage but they have high goals to achieve in 2009-10.
Third-year outside hitters Amanda Frayne (Kamloops, BC) and Kelly Asleson (Richmond, BC) will be expected to lead the squad this season. The WolfPack lost only two players to graduation, but will be without their Danish connection as setter Stine Christainsen and Lykke Degner have elected to stay home this season.
Anna Dyakewicz (outside hitter, 3rd year, Burnaby, BC) made an instant impact after sitting out the first part of last year to complete NCAA eligibility requirements. She was ninth in Canada West in kills, averaging 2.92 per game.
Wohlford has recruited a number of players with bright futures. These include Brittany Bureau (middle, Calgary), Emily Bootle (middle, Kamloops), Christa Waddington (libero, Langley, BC) and Kristen Knudstev (setter, Edmonton).
The WolfPack began the season with a training camp in California.
Trinity Western Spartans
2008-09 conference record: 14-6 (4th)
2009 CW playoffs: 3-1 (2nd)
2009 CIS tournament: 2-1 (5th)
Last CW title: none
Last CIS title: none
How Trinity Western fares by the end of season will depend in a large part on how well the team performs after graduating almost half of their starting lineup that was 14-6 in Canada West, finished second in the Canada West playoffs and fifth at last year's CIS national championship.
"This year will be no different than other years as to the high level of competition in Canada West. There are some teams, ourselves included, that have graduated a heavy senior class. But I feel that it will not slow many teams down," commented TWU head coach Ryan Hofer. "Each year it is a battle to make the final four and then move to nationals, that is our goal and what we are working towards."
The Spartans graduated starting All-Canadian and National team middle Dayna Jansen Van Doorn, middle Julie Koepke and outside hitter Danielle Foth from last year's lineup.
Despite the change in the middle the Spartans should be solid in all other parts of the lineup.
Running the offence will be third0year and Canadian National team setter Lauren O'Reilly (5'11'', Langley, B.C.) and third-year setter Chelsea Hudson (5'11'', Winnipeg). Last season O'Reilly led the Spartans with 8.83 sets per game, while Chelsea Hudson averaged 6.79 sets per game.
The Spartans defence will be anchored by returning libero's fourth-year Andrea Ball (5-8, Abbotsford, B.C.), who averaged 3.41 digs per game, and third-year Jodi Neufeld (5'3'', Surrey, B.C.), who averaged 0.47 digs per game.
The outside attack will come from fifth-year right side Kim Klassen (5'1''1, Abbotsford), who averaged 2.54 kills per game, fourth-year outside Kara Jansen Van Doorn (6-0, Langley), who averaged 2.55 kills per game, fifth-year outside Carmen Dyck (5'10'', Creston, B.C.), who averaged 2.17 kills per game and second-year outside Amy Leschied (6'0'', East Selkirk, B.C.), who averaged 0.75 kills per game. "It is my hope that we will be stronger on the wings then in the past due to players getting more experience and improvement," said Hofer.
The returning middles will learn on the fly as they are thrown into the deep end of the Canada West pool. Looking for more time on the floor will be third-year Ismay Schon (6'1'', Langley), second-year Amy Leschied (6'0'', East Selkirk, B.C.) and second-year Nicole Bazin (6'0'', Winnipeg), who averaged 0.85 kills and 0.55 blocks per game.
New to this year's team are middles Jordan Rupps (6'1'', Saskatoon), Lindsay Dykman (6'2'', Terrace, B.C.), libero Chelsea Fitchette (5'9'', Walnut Grove, B.C.) and outside Chelsea Wand (6'0'', Langley).
"This semester is a bear. Every game is big," commented Hofer on the start of the Canada West season. "It is going to be a grind with some great volleyball. I am excited and looking forward to it."
Whether the Spartans rise to the challenge and return to Nationals or are scraping for a Canada West playoff spot down the stretch, only time will tell. But the answer probably lies somewhere in the middle.
2008-09 conference record: 1-19 (11th, missed playoffs)
Last CW title: none
Last CIS title: 1992-93
Head coach Diane Scott, in her 15th season, has assembled a team that will be led on and off the court by a quartet of returning veterans.
Ariel Smith, coming off an impressive rookie campaign, returns for her second season after making an immediate impact in her rookie year and earning the recognition of being named to the CIS All-Rookie team. Ariel and middle blockers Alix Krahn (3rd year) and Lauren Sears (3rd) garnered valuable experience participating in this past July's Canada Summer Games in Prince Edward Island. Hopefully the success each had at the Games will carry over into the Wesmen season. Leah Brezinski, also in her third year, worked extremely hard during the off season and will be looking to make more of an impact this season.
Coach Scott enters the season with an impressive group of eight recruits. Carleen Kruschel and Sonia Rossy join the Wesmen with impressive resumes from high school and club volleyball. Both will be expected to make an immediate impact in their first season. Danica Hughes, hailing locally from Linden Christian School, will be handed the reigns as a rookie starting setter. Scott has high hopes and great confidence in Hughes's ability to fill the role of a leader.
Kaley Gilham comes to the team after spending two seasons with Red Deer College. Alicia Perry (Arborg, Man), Rhea White (Regina), Miranda Grayson (Selkirk, Man) and Kaelyn Gauthier (Beausejour, Man) round out the impressive group of recruits for the 2009-2010 season.
"If the exhibition season is an indication of our growth, potential, competitiveness and athleticism then this is going to be a fun season for our team! I am so pleased with the effort, commitment and energy this group of young women has already shown on and off the court! We're young and have a few lessons to learn, but our game has definitely improved! We are able to compete each night, and therefore will earn opportunities for success! It's very exciting to have the opportunity to coach such a talented group of young women," said head coach Diane Scott.