Women’s Volleyball: Manitoba’s Rachel Cockrell wins MVP

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Manitoba Bison Rachel Cockrell

(ISN) – NEW WESTMINSTER, BC – Manitoba Bisons fourth-year right side Rachel Cockrell is the 2014-15 Canada West women’s volleyball Most Valuable Player, the conference announced today.

The 5’10” Arts major topped the league in kills and kills-per-set, while leading the Bisons to a 13-11 regular season record and a quarterfinal series matchup with the UBC Okanagan Heat, starting tonight at 6:00 pm PT.

Donata Huebert was selected as the Libero of the Year and is the first player ever to win the award three times. The Calgary Dinos took home three individual awards – outside hitter Kate Pexman is Rookie of the Year, setter Jordhynn Guy was selected for the Student-Athlete Community Service Award, and Natalie Gurnsey was named Coach of the Year.

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER. Individually in 2014-15 Canada West final regular season stats, Manitoba Bison Rachel Cockrell was first in kills per set (5.06), kills (471), points (535.5) and points per set (5.8). She was dominant throughout this season as she led the defending CIS champions to a sixth place finish with a 13-11 record and was selected as team captain for a third consecutive season. She started and played in all 24 conference regular season matches and led the team in kills in every match except one, had 20 or more kills in ten matches over the 2014-15 season, and her highest total was a 29-kill effort against Calgary on October 9, 2014. She also had eight matches of 10 or more digs in a contest to show her versatility on both offence and defence.

Prior to this season, Cockrell finished the 2013-14 season with style as she was named the CIS women’s volleyball championship MVP after Manitoba swept all three matches en route to the 2013-14 CIS national championship title. In the three CIS champ matches, the 5’10” hitter slammed 43 kills (.320 hitting percentage), 10 digs, eight total blocks and 49.5 points while starting and playing all nine sets. In 2013-14 Canada West stats, the Winnipeg native was fifth in conference kills at 3.64 per set (273 kills in 75 sets) and fifth in points at 4.33 per set (325.0 in 75 sets). Cockrell was also named as a 2012-13 CIS Second Team All-Canadian plus 2012-13 Canada West First Team All-Star and 2010-11 CIS All-Rookie Team.
“We are so proud of Rachel and what she has meant to our program over the past five years. Each and every year she worked so hard to improve her game through her work in the gym and in the weight room. It is so rewarding as a coach to see such a talented athlete strive to reach their full potential. Such an awesome talent but an even better person,” said Bisons coach Ken Bentley.

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR & ALL-ROOKIE TEAM. In her first season in the CIS, Kate Pexman made an immediate impact as a starter in the University of Calgary Dinos lineup. The rookie recorded a total of 297 kills over the course of the season, good for fourth in the nation. The Engineering student leads the Dinos in kills and kills per set and comes in at second in digs with 230. Pexman’s presence was integral to Calgary’s success this season, scoring double digits in kills in 19 of 23 games this season, including her best game of the year against Mount Royal when she recorded 22 kills and 17 digs.

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Kate Pexman University of Calgary Dinos

Pexman is the fourth University of Calgary student-athlete to be named Canada West Rookie of the Year. She joins Amanda Moppett (2000), Janelle Findlay (2003) and Lauren Perry (2005).

“Kate has been a standout all season. I am continually impressed with her poise under pressure, physical ability on the court and mental toughness,” said Dinos head coach Natalie Gurnsey. “She earned her spot as the starting P1 on our roster, which is a position that comes with a lot of demands. Yet, she has risen to the challenge every match she has played. She has handled the mental and physical demands of a CIS student-athlete with humility and strength. She is such a special player and person. I am so proud of the work she has done this year to achieve this award and can’t think of anyone more deserving than her.”

Pexman is joined on the All-Rookie Team by her Dinos teammate Beth Vinnell, Brandon’s Nikala Majewski, Mount Royal’s Alex Runge, Manitoba’s Kalena Schulz and Alberta’s Erica Walsh.

LIBERO OF THE YEAR. Since arriving in Brandon, Donata Huebert has established herself as the premier back-row player in the Canada West conference. Huebert has now captured the conference Libero of the Year award in all three years she’s played. In her previous two seasons, the Minden, Germany product went on to become CIS Libero of the Year as well. Huebert was also named to the 2014 CIS All-Canadian First Team, a rare feat for a libero.

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 Donata Huebert 

This season, Huebert finished second in the conference in total digs, but her impact on the Bobcats is immeasurable.

“Having Donata play for us is like having another coach on the floor. She’s able to adjust our serve receive and defence on the floor according to what she sees happening in the game,” said coach Lee Carter.

“She’s such an impact player that teams game plan to avoid her. Off the court she is an honours student, she is a volunteer coach, she gives back to the community, and she’s a peer tutor for other students. She does so much. She’s everything you would hope all student-athletes strive to be.”

COACH OF THE YEAR. Head coach of the University of Calgary women’s volleyball team, Natalie Gurnsey, entered her fourth year at the helm for the Dinos this season. Coming off a disappointing 5-17 season last year, the Dinos turned it around to not only to have a winning record of 14-10, but to also host their first playoff series since 2008. The Dinos have been consistently ranked in the CIS Top Ten rankings the entire season with a high at No. 6 for four consecutive weeks.

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Natalie Gurnsey University of Calgary 

A mix of youth, veteran leadership and depth have made Gurnsey’s Dinos successful in 2014-15. This is the first conference honour for the former Dinos and CIS Champion. Gurnsey is the fourth coach in program history to earn the honours.

“Natalie’s coach of the year recognition is a reflection of the work she has done over the past few years to build a culture of excellence, both on the floor and off, within her program,” said Dinos Athletic Director Ron Wuotila. “I am thrilled for Natalie and am proud to have her as the coach of the Dinos.”

STUDENT-ATHLETE COMMUNITY SERVICE AWARD. Jordhynn Guy has been a leader on and off the court for the Dinos for a number of seasons. As the starting setter, the Arts student recorded a nation-high 918 assists, which set a new record for the conference. Guy also improved her marks over the course of her time at the University of Calgary with a GPA of 3.78 in her final year.

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Jordhynn Guy University of Calgary

In terms of community service, Guy is involved with many programs within the City of Calgary including Stepping Out, a research program that aims to build into the lives of young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Athletes in Action as part of the leadership team. The fifth-year setter is also a member of UChurch and the B’nai Tikvah Synagogue where she traveled to Rwanda to aid in a sustainability project and enrolled in the internship program to provide opportunities to integrate faith into many areas of life.

“Jordhynn is an exceptionally bright young woman with dynamic leadership skills,” said Dinos head coach Natalie Gurnsey As you can see from her resume, Jordhynn’s life is comprised of much more than just volleyball. She is fiercely committed to her faith, active in the community of Calgary to help those less fortunate than her and passionate about developing the future generations of volleyball leaders. Jordhynn is a well-balanced young woman with a drive to change people and the world around her.”

Guy moves forward as the Canada West nominee for the CIS Therese Quigley Award.

FIRST & SECOND ALL-STAR TEAMS. Cockrell and Huebert are joined in the First Team All-Stars by Alberta’s Meg Casault, UBC Okanagan’s Katy Klomps, Thompson Rivers’ Iuliia Pakhomenko and Trinity Western’s Alicia Perrin.

Guy headlines the Second Team All-Stars alongside UBC’s Danielle Brisebois, Trinity Western’s Sophie Carpentier, Alberta’s Dione Lang, Regina’s Michelle Sweeting and UBC Okanagan’s Katie Wuttanee.

Pakhomenko, Brisebois, Guy, Lang and Wuttanee are first-time All-Stars.
Complete list of 2014-15 Canada West Women’s Volleyball Awards winners:

Most Valuable Player: Rachel Cockrell, Manitoba
Rookie of the Year: Kate Pexman, Calgary
Libero of the Year: Donata Huebert, Brandon
Coach of the Year: Natalie Gurnsey, Calgary
Student-Athlete Community Service Award: Jordhynn Guy, Calgary
2014-15 Canada West First Team All-Stars (repeat-winners in bold):

Meg Casault, Alberta
Rachel Cockrell, Manitoba
Donata Huebert, Brandon
Katy Klomps, UBC Okanagan
Iuliia Pakhomenko, Thompson Rivers
Alicia Perrin, Trinity Western
2014-15 Canada West Second Team All-Stars (repeat-winners in bold):

Danielle Brisebois, UBC
Sophie Carpentier, Trinity Western
Jordhynn Guy, Calgary
Dione Lang, Alberta
Michelle Sweeting, Regina
Katie Wuttanee, UBC Okanagan
2014-15 Canada West All-Rookie Team:

Nikala Majewski, Brandon
Kate Pexman, Calgary
Alex Runge, Mount Royal
Kalena Schulz, Manitoba
Beth Vinnell, Calgary
Erica Walsh, Alberta

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