UBC Thunderbirds

 (ISN) – UBC Thunderbirds fifth-year left side hitter Kyla Richey has been voted the Canada West women’s volleyball Most Valuable Player as UBC and Winnipeg combined to win all five year-end individual awards.

Richey continues to be a dominant force for the Thunderbirds, which were 18-2 during the regular season and have won four consecutive CIS titles.

During the 2011-12 regular season, the native of Roberts Creek, BC averaged 3.54 kills per set, the best in Canada West, and led the conference in points per set (4.42). The 2009 CIS Championship MVP also placed seventh in service aces per game, 18th in blocks per set and 23rd in digs per set. Her play has been recognized throughout the season, culminating in her Canada West and CIS Female Athlete of the Week awards during the week of January 23, 2012.

Richey is a member of Canada’s National Team and will be with the squad in late April as it tries to qualify for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London.

“Kyla has developed not only as a great attacker, but she has also helped us score points from the service line and as a blocker, said Doug Reimer, UBC Head Coach, adding “The development of her all-round play, front and back court, has been rewarding to see and a testament to her work with our team and National Team training.”

First-year sensation Ozana Nikolic of the Winnipeg Wesmen is the Rookie of the Year. The 5-11 left side out of the U of W Collegiate played a vital role in helping the Wesmen to a 14-6 regular season record and a second place tie in the 11-team standings.

Nikolic was a starter from the beginning of the season and finished third in the conference in kills with 238. She finished second on the team with 210 defensive digs, had a season-high 22 kills on November 25 and finished with 22 defensive digs in a match on November 18. During the regular season, she recorded 10-plus kills on 15 occasions.

“Ozana is a very gifted athlete. She is so raw on so many levels yet so amazing. She has played a significant role in our team success this season. Ozana is such a wonderful athlete to coach, everyday is Christmas,” said Wesmen head coach Diane Scott.

Tesca Andrew-Wasylik’s play this season played a huge part in the success of the Winnipeg Wesmen and the fifth-year standout has won Libero of the Year honours.

The Unionville, Ont. product was a starter in every match for the Wesmen, averaging 4.11 digs per set and 308 in total, good for second in the conference. Her stellar play helped the team finish second in team digs during the regular season. Andrew-Wasylik dug up a season-high 24 digs on November 11.

“We were so lucky to have the opportunity to have an athlete and team mate like Tesca join our team. Her passion, athleticism and skill have helped us take a step forward. Tesca is an amazing personality in the team room and on the court”, commented Diane Scott.

Andrew-Wasylik joined the Wesmen after spending four years as a member and team captain of the Wilfred Laurier University Women’s Volleyball team.

Canada West Student-Athlete of the Year and nominee for the CIS Thérèse Quigley Award is Rayel Quiring of the UBC Thunderbirds, clearly a leader on and off the volleyball court.

The fifth-year player has had a massive impact as a leader on the court for the UBC Thunderbirds, winning four consecutive CIS Championships, and helping the team to a season-long No. 1 ranking in CIS.

She works just as hard outside of volleyball to help others as a volunteer leader with the Canadian Cancer Society Committee, managing eight different events to fundraise $10,000 by June 16 for the Relay for Life. She also helps the CCS as a Human Resources Project Volunteer, spending 12 hours a week working on developing, implementing and evaluating a new Workplace Wellness Program.

Quiring has been accepted into the prestigious “Leaders of Tomorrow” mentorship program of The Vancouver Board of Trade and last summer worked as a Relief Worker for a Habitat for Humanity. She also coaches at the Atomic Volleyball skills clinic and works to help run UBC’s annual high school volleyball tournament.

“Ray is the heart of the team – the player that is always looking to lead and encourage her teammates to be their best,” said UBC head coach Doug Reimer. “She is a player that makes things happen on the court and this has carried out to her many volunteer endeavours and projects outside of volleyball.”

Coach of the Year Diane Scott, in her 17th season as head coach, guided the Winnipeg Wesmen to a 14-6 regular season record and a tie for second place in the Canada West Women’s Volleyball Conference standings. Under Scott’s guidance the Wesmen doubled their regular season win total from last year (7-13) and were ranked in the CIS Top 10 every week during the regular season. An accomplished coach, Scott guided the Wesmen to a CIS silver medal finish in 2002-2003 and was honoured as the Great Plains Athletic Conference Coach of the Year in 1995-96.

“I am very pleased that Diane has won the Canada West Women’s Volleyball Coach of the Year award. She has instilled a positive attitude in this group of young women. I believe it is her mentoring and coaching abilities that have resulted in the dramatic turn around of the program. She deserves all of the accolades that come her way”, added University of Winnipeg Athletic Director Doran Reid.

Among this year’s All-Stars who have been selected to the all-conference team before are 2011 CIS Player of the Year and Tournament MVP Shanice Marcelle (2011 CIS 1st Team) and 2009 CIS Tournament MVP Kyla Richey (2010 CIS 2nd) of UBC, Winnipeg’s Lauren Sears (2011 CW 2nd) and Alberta setter Jaki Ellis (2011 CIS 2nd).

Following are the 2011-12 Canada West women’s volleyball individual award winners and All-Stars:


MVP: Kyla Richey, UBC

Rookie of the Year: Ozana Nikolic, Winnipeg

Libero of the Year: Tesca Andrew-Wasylik, Winnipeg

Thérèse Quigley Student-Athlete Award nominee: Rayel Quiring, UBC

Coach of the Year: Diane Scott, Winnipeg

ALL-STARS (alphabetical by surname)

First Team Second Team

Jakie Ellis, Alberta Brina Derksen-Bergen, UBC

Shanice Marcelle, UBC Lindsey Doland, Calgary

Alena Omelchenko, Alberta Kristi Hunter, Manitoba

Alicia Perrin, Trinity Western Sarah Lacny, Calgary

Kyla Richey, UBC Ozana Nikolic, Winnipeg

Lauren Sears, Winnipeg Royal Richardson, Trinity Western

Award winners are now considered for national accolades, to be handed out by Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) at the 2012 national championship, hosted March 2-4 in Hamilton, Ont. by McMaster University: http://english.cis-sic.ca/championships/wvball/index

The UBC Thunderbirds host the February 24-25 Canada West Final Four in Vancouver, where three of four schools will earn a berth at 2012 Nationals. Host UBC takes on the Trinity Western Spartans in one semifinal on Friday night, followed by the Winnipeg Wesmen and Alberta Pandas. Bronze and gold medal matches are Saturday night.