UBC near-unanimous choice in Canada West preseason women's volleyball coaches' poll
Photo credit Yan Doublet, Laval
EDMONTON – The four-time defending CIS champion UBC
Thunderbirds are once again loaded with talent and favoured by
conference coaches to finish atop the standings again in
With coaches not permitted to vote for their own school, UBC received nine first-place votes, while Alberta received two.
Here are the complete voting results, based on a 12-10-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 system (first-place votes in parentheses):
1. UBC (9) 118
2. Alberta (2) 102
3. Manitoba 73
4. Trinity Western 70
5. Calgary 66
6. Winnipeg 52
7. Brandon 44
8. Regina 36
9. UBC Okanagan 35
10. Thompson Rivers 25
11. Saskatchewan 10
With the return of CIS Player of the Year and national tournament MVP Shanice Marcelle, along with former All-Canadian Kyla Richie and a squad that has repeated success over and over, the UBC Thunderbirds appear poised to challenge for a fifth consecutive CIS championship. Rayel Quiring, Brina Derksen-Bergen and Lisa Barclay are also among the returning veterans.
Standards are high at Alberta, so with the incentive of a mere fourth-place finish at Nationals, the second-ranked Pandas look for even more success in 2011-12. Fourth-year All-Canadian setter Jaki Ellis leads an experienced, well-rounded group that includes outside hitter Krista Zubick, setter Alyssa Jones, middle Caitlin Buckell and left side Erin Walsh.
Placing third in the coaches’ poll were the Manitoba Bisons, coming off a 10-8 season that saw them make the CW Final Four. All-Star middle Tricia Mayba is set to take over as leader with the departure of Ashley Voth and Sam Loewen. CIS All-Rookie member Rachel Cockrell looks to make even more if an impact this season. The Bisons have had a very good preseason.
The Trinity Western Spartans placed second in the conference and third at Nationals last year. Back to try and help complete the rise to a title under reigning CIS Coach of the Year Ryan Hofer are All-Star outside Amy Leschied, All-Rookie middle Alicia Perrin and libero Nicole Bazin. The addition of 2008-09 CIS Rookie of the Year Kelci French will bolster an already talented squad.
Fifth in the conference preseason poll, the Calgary Dinos are now guided by former All-Canadian and CIS champion Natalie Schwartz. All-Star middle Melanie Miazga, middle Sarah Lacny and veteran outside players Lindsay Russell and Lindsey Doland return to compete. Andrea Price is a top recruit, last year named ACAC Athlete of the Year and winning a CCAA title, being named tournament MVP.
After missing the post-season on the final weekend of the season last year, the Winnipeg Wesmen goal is to earn their first playoff spot since divisional play back in 2006. Returning All-Star and fifth-year middle Lauren Sears continues to lead the way, ranking among the best in several statistical categories last season. Fifth-year libero Tesca Andrew-Wasylik, an OUA All-Star with Wilfrid Laurier University last season, should make a big impact. Second-year setter Brittany Habing could be a future team leader.
The Brandon Bobcats finished fifth last season, but fell out of the playoff quickly. With All-Canadian Teagan Hunter and several key players moved on from the team - Becky Young, Sara Grona and Donata Huebert – a much younger group is left to try and stay competitive in a tough Canada West conference. Jaryn Ruether, Claire Willerton and Kellie Baker are among those back for another season.
At #8 in the preseason poll are the Regina Cougars, coming off an 8-10 season that was well below their record of 13-7 in 2009-10. With all the major players back, including setter Tiffany Herman, left side Meagan Onstad and libero Rebecca Rink, the Cougars look to at least make the post-season and get back to the Final Four.
A new addition to the conference, the UBC Okanagan Heat placed #9 among coaches conference-wide. Eleven-year head coach Steve Manuel led the Heat to consecutive CCAA national titles before falling just short last season. Fourth-year Alex Basso, a two time All-Canadian and 2010 CCAA Player of the Year, along with third-year players Myrte Schön, a national tournament All-Star in 2011, and Jill Festival have had success at the collegiate level.
Since 2005-06 the Thompson Rivers WolfPack have not won more than six matches in a season and history suggests they need at least eight to make the Canada West playoffs. With outside Kelly Asleson and setter Kara Twomey back and some new, international flavour on the roster, this could be the year that the ’Pack make a move. It will be interesting to see how the team gels and if they improve as the season moves along.
After missing the playoffs for a decade, the Saskatchewan Huskies make a go of trying to jump up and compete for a post-season spot with standout returnees Candace Hueser, Erin McGladdery and Erin Foster. Added to new head coach Jason Grieve’s roster are high school talents Kayla Tycholiz and outside hitter Alex Van Dyke, who hope to have an immediate impact.
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About Canada West Universities Athletic Association
Canada West is consistently the most decorated of the four conferences in Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS), winning at least 10 CIS national titles every year, 1997 to 2010. Comprised of 16 schools from the provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia, Canada West produces numerous major award winners and Academic All-Canadian student-athletes each year, with many going on to athletic success around the globe in pro leagues or events such as the Olympics, Paralympics or Universiade Games. “cwuaa” on Twitter.