HAMILTON, Ont. (ISN) – Kyla Richey, a fifth-year left side from the reigning four-time national champion University of British Columbia Thunderbirds, was named the CIS player of the year in women’s volleyball, Wednesday night.

A native of Roberts Creek, B.C., Richey became the third UBC player in as many years – and the third in program history – to claim the Mary Lyons Award. Current teammate Shanice Marcelle was honoured last season, while former T-Bird great Liz Cordonier was named MVP in 2009-10.

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Other CIS major award winners announced during the All-Canadian Gala held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Hamilton were University of Winnipeg’s Ozana Nikolic, a left side from Winnipeg, who captured the Mark Tennant Award as rookie of the year; McGill’s Daphnée-Maude André-Morin of Vaudreuil-sur-le-Lac, Que., who earned top-libero honours; Queen’s Natalie Gray, an outside hitter from Oshawa, Ont., who merited the Thérèse Quigley Award recognizing excellence in volleyball, academics and community involvement; and Winnipeg head coach Diane Scott, who received the Marilyn Pomfret Award, presented by Coaches of Canada.

The 2012 CIS championship kicks off Friday at McMaster University and culminates Sunday at 4 p.m. with the gold-medal final. All 11 games from the tournament will be webcast live by SSN Canada, while Cable 14 (Hamilton) will broadcast Saturday’s championship semifinals and Sunday’s medal matches.

MARY LYONS AWARD (player of the year): Kyla Richey, UBC

Richey was simply the best player on the best team in the country this season. The 6-foot-1 senior led Canada West with 3.54 kills and 4.42 points per set in conference play, averages that rank third and fourth in the nation, respectively. She also finished seventh in the conference in service aces per set (0.41), while placing in the top 25 in both blocks (0.83) and digs (2.35).

Behind her strong play, the Thunderbirds took first place in the Canada West standings thanks to a stellar 18-2 record, topped all 14 weekly national polls and qualified for the CIS championship, where they hope to capture a fifth straight banner. Should UBC once again triumph on Sunday, the kinesiology student would enter a very select group as a five-time CIS champion.

Prior to her selection to the first all-Canadian team this season, Richey had been voted to the second CIS squad in 2009-10. She was also named a CIS championship all-star in 2009, when she claimed tournament-MVP honours, and 2011.

A member of the senior national team since 2010, Richey will compete at the Olympic qualifying tournament in late April as Canada tries to clinch a spot at the 2012 London Games. She has already represented Canada at numerous competitions, including the 2009 Summer Universiade in Belgrade, Serbia. She is part of a talented volleyball family, her mother, Jan, having won the 1978 CIS championship with UBC, while her brother, Stuart, currently plays for Thompson Rivers University.

“Kyla is a special player and has contributed so much to our team as a competitor and a leader,” said UBC head coach Doug Reimer. “Her dedication to UBC and to the national team program demonstrates the impact she has had on the volleyball community in Canada. We have been fortunate to have a player of such talent and prowess on our side of the net. She has made huge improvements in her all-round play and it is rewarding to be witness to that.”

The other finalists for the Mary Lyons Award were Saint Mary’s left side Kerri Smit, Montreal outside Marie-Sophie Nadeau and Queen’s outside Natalie Gray.


MARK TENNANT AWARD (rookie of the year): Ozana Nikolic, Winnipeg

Nikolic is the second Winnipeg player in three years – and the fourth in program history – to be named CIS rookie of the year. Sonia Rossy (2010), Sandy Newsham (1992) and Tara Patrick (1991) previously received the honour for the Wesmen.

The 18-year-old biology student was nothing short of sensational in her university debut. She cracked the starting lineup from day one and went on to place third in Canada West in both kills per set (3.26) and total kills (238), while finishing sixth in points per set (3.6). The 5-foot-11 left side also excelled on defence averaging 2.88 digs per set, good for second place on her team and ninth in the conference. She hit double digits in kills in 15 of 20 league matches, including a season-high 22 on Nov. 25 against Thompson Rivers.


Her remarkable play helped Winnipeg improve from a 6-12 record a year ago to a 14-6 mark this season, and earned her a spot on Canada West’s second all-star team.


Nikolic is a product of U of W Collegiate, which she captained to a provincial AAA high school title in 2010-11. She was chosen league MVP and was named to the Provincial Graduation Team and the All-Manitoba Team.


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


Three middle players, including Dalhousie’s Maggie Li, Sherbrooke’s Roxanne Hasseni and Ryerson’s Chelsea Briscoe, were also in the running for the Tennant Award.


LIBERO OF THE YEAR: Daphnée-Maude André-Morin, McGill

André-Morin, a 5-foot-7 native of Vaudreuil-sur-le-Lac, Que., who was raised in Kitchener, Ont., captured libero-of-the-year honours in the RSEQ league for the second consecutive season. She is the first McGill player to claim the award at the CIS level since it was first presented in 2006.

The 20-year-old education junior, who also merited second-team all-conference honours this year, led the RSEQ in both total digs (236) and digs per set (4.29). She racked up 43 more digs than her nearest Quebec opponent, who also played an identical number of sets (55). Her 4.29 average was the sixth best in the country.

“Daphnée has been the top libero in Quebec for the past two years,” said McGill head coach Rachèle Béliveau. “Her best quality is consistency from one game to the next. She brings a positive attitude with good athletic skills to the court for every practice and every game. She is light on her feet, possesses great speed and is an excellent ball-handler. Even though she is only in her second year as a starter, she brings maturity and has potential to develop even further. That’s precisely the type of athlete that a coach wants to work with.

The other nominees were Saint Mary’s Anastasia Callaghan, McMaster’s Meagan Nederveen and Winnipeg’s Tesca Andrew-Wasylik.


MARILYN POMFRET AWARD (coach of the year – presented by Coaches of Canada): Diane Scott, Winnipeg

Scott became the third Wesmen sideline boss to be named CIS coach of the year in women’s volleyball. Current UBC coach Doug Reimer was twice recognized for his work with Winnipeg (1993, 1994), while Mike Burchuk received the award four times in the 1980s.

In her 17th season at the helm, Scott guided her troops to a 14-6 record and a third-place finish in the Canada West standings, one year after the team missed the playoffs for the fifth straight campaign with a 6-12 mark. The much-improved Wesmen were ranked in the national Top 10 the entire season, reaching No. 2 for one week in January.

Scott, who hails from Winnipeg, had previously been named Great Plains conference coach of the year in 1995-96 and led the Wesmen to a silver-medal finish at the 2003 CIS championship. Inducted into the Manitoba Volleyball Hall of Fame in 2008, she won three national titles with Winnipeg as a player, including in 1992-93, when she was voted CIS player of the year and CIS championship MVP, and went on to claim the BLG Award as CIS female athlete of the year.

“I am very pleased that Diane has won the CIS coach of the year award,” said Winnipeg athletic director Doran Reid. “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 turnaround of the program. She deserves all of the accolades that come her way.”

Saint Mary’s Darren Russell, Montreal’s Olivier Trudel and York’s Nick Tran were also up for coach-of-the-year honours.


THÉRÈSE QUIGLEY AWARD (volleyball, academics & community service): Natalie Gray, Queen’s

Gray is the first Gael to receive the Thérèse Quigley Award since it was first presented in 1993-94.

On the court, the 5-foot-9 outside hitter was named to the second all-Canadian team in her fourth season with Queen’s after she finished 10th in the country in kills (3.24 per set) and 15th in points (3.6). She was also stellar on defence with an average of 3.3 digs per set, good for second place on her team.

The nursing science student won the 2011-12 OUA Award of Merit, which recognizes academics, athletics and community service. She is also a three-time winner of the Women’s Golden Gaels Award and earned AFA funding in each of her years as a Gael.

A recognized leader off of the court, Gray is the student-athlete lead with Athletes in Action (AIA) on campus and for the past two seasons, she has coordinated a Varsity Dodgeball tournament to raise money and awareness for charities. As part of her role with AIA, she also participates in speaking engagements throughout campus.

“From her rookie season, Natalie made an immediate impact on this team and she truly has become integral to what we do and how we perform,” said Queen’s head coach Joely Christian-Macfarlane. “She is a special athlete whose dedication, work ethic and desire to compete have made her an indispensable part of our team. She exemplifies all the outstanding qualities one would want in a student-athlete. Her excellence in the classroom and on the court has made her a fantastic ambassador for our team and for Queen’s University.”

The other finalists were Dalhousie’s Kirstie Shepherd, McGill’s Kaiva Mateus and UBC’s Rayel Quiring.


The all-Canadian teams were also announced on Wednesday.

Joining Richey on the first CIS squad were conference most valuable players Kerri Smit of Saint Mary’s (AUS) and Marie-Sophie Nadeau of Montreal (RSEQ), as well as Alberta setter Jaki Ellis, UBC left side Shanice Marcelle, McGill middle Kaiva Mateus and Winnipeg middle Laura Sears.

Marcelle and Smit are both returnees from last season’s first team, while Nadeau and Ellis were members of the second unit a year ago. Marcelle and Nadeau were voted CIS MVP and rookie of the year, respectively, in 2010-11.

In addition to Gray, this season’s second CIS dream team is comprised of Sherbrooke middle Roxanne Hasseni, York outside Melissa Humana-Paredes, Alberta outside Alena Omelchenko, Trinity Western middle Alicia Perrin, Cape Breton middle Vanessa St. Georges, and York left side Brandie Wilkerson.

Nikolic is joined on the all-rookie team by conference top freshmen Maggie Li of Dalhousie, Roxanne Hasseni of Sherbrooke and Chelsea Briscoe of Ryerson, as well as McMaster outside Lauren Mastroluisi, UNB right side Vanja Mitrovic and Manitoba setter Christina Souza.



Mary Lyons Award (player of the year): Kyla Richey, UBC

Mark Tennant Award (rookie of the year): Ozana Nikolic, Winnipeg

Libero of the year: Daphnée-Maude André-Morin, McGill

Marilyn Pomfret Award (coach of the year – presented by Coaches of Canada): Diane Scott, Winnipeg

Thérèse Quigley Award (volleyball, academics & community service): Natalie Gray, Queen’s