Season preview: Women’s volleyball team figures to be elite once again

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The University of the Fraser Valley volleyball teams launch their PacWest regular season schedules in high-profile fashion this weekend – they take on their crosstown rivals, the Columbia Bible College Bearcats, in a home-and-home series.


On Friday, UFV hosts the Bearcats at the Envision Athletic Centre, with the women getting things started at 6 p.m. and the men following at 8 p.m. On Saturday, the two teams tangle again, this time at Columbia Place (women 6 p.m., men 8 p.m.).

With the regular season looming, we take a closer look at the Cascades women’s volleyball team.

Powerhouse women’s squad has elite ingredients

With a new-look roster comes a fresh sense of excitement for the UFV women’s volleyball program.

The Cascades, having bid adieu to veteran standouts like Jenna Evans and Krista Hogewoning, return just two starters from last year’s squad in their original roles – middles Kierra Noot and Emily Carroll. A third starter from 2013-14, Nicole Blandford, will be shifting from setter to libero.

That leaves four starting spots up for grabs, and some coaches might find such roster turnover a daunting challenge. But for head coach Dennis Bokenfohr, it’s exhilarating – in large part because he’s got a lot of depth and talent to work with.

“This year, there’s a lot more unknown, and that creates excitement,” Bokenfohr said. “With the depth this year, from week to week you don’t know who’s going to be out there (in the starting lineup).”

Among the Cascades’ key newcomers are Reena Randhawa and Michelle Zygmunt, graduates of Abbotsford’s W.J. Mouat Secondary who have transferred to their hometown university. Randhawa, who previously played for the Capilano Blues, takes over at setter. Zygmunt, a former University of Ottawa Gee-Gee, is part of a deep group of outside hitters battling for playing time, which also includes fourth-year veteran Chantal Bruce.

Bokenfohr, entering his sixth year at the helm, has built the Cascades into a national powerhouse. He guided them to CCAA national championship berths in 2011-12 and 2012-13, winning bronze and gold, respectively, at those events.

Last season, the UFV women finished second in the PacWest with a 20-4 record, but lost both of their games at provincials to end up in fourth place and miss out on a third straight trip to nationals.

Bokenfohr believes there’s plenty of momentum to bounce back from that disappointing ending.

“There’s quite a bit of excitement in our gym right now,” he said. “The practices have been fantastic, and there’s been a lot of growth. And that’s coming from a pretty high level, too, so it’s been fun to watch.”

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