The Camosun Chargers women’s volleyball team is gearing up for what promises to be the program’s most exciting year yet as the college prepares to host the 2017 Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Women’s Volleyball National Championship, March 8-11.
“We’re thrilled to be hosting our first national indoor event,” says Camosun Recreation and Athletics Coordinator Graham Matthews. “We’re looking forward to the opportunity to showcase the country’s best and make the championship a memorable experience for the participants, spectators and all of those involved.”
With Camosun taking on hosting duties, the Chargers who won bronze at the 2015 CCAA Women’s Volleyball National Championship, secure an automatic entry to compete for the title a second time.
“There’s this tremendous excitement that exceeds the typical level of excitement that you start every year with,” commented Head Coach Chris Dahl in an interview with PACWEST’s Ryan Watters. “We will still start the year with that genuine excitement of what’s to come… but we also know that at the end, we are going to have this incredible opportunity to represent the PACWEST on the national stage again and that definitely makes this season unique and special.”
This year, the Chargers head into the 2016-17 PACWEST season with 18 players on its practice roster, the largest number to date.
“We have a strong contingent of returning players coming back to the program – some who have been here as many as five years and some returning second-years and everything in between,” states Coach Dahl.
Returnees include Vancouver Island products Robyn Bishop (Nanaimo), Taylor Ellis (Nanaimo), Lainey Jantzi (Parksville), Mychaela Roelants (Comox) and Victoria natives Stephanie Galitzine and Jasmine Strandlund, both graduates of Lambrick Park.
Also getting set to make a strong return to the stage are 2015-16 PACWEST All-Stars Katie Fetting (Lethbridge, AB) and Michelle Zygmunt (Abbotsford) and PACWEST All-Rookie Morgan Monkman from Smithers.
“We have a lot of outstanding people in the program,” said Coach Dahl. “We have athletes in our program like Lainey Jantzi who I’ve worked with here and in Team BC programs for five years plus and players like fourth-year outside hitter Michelle Zygmunt who led us with 287 kills last year and closed in on fifth-year veteran Hilary Graham’s single season record of 299. Second-year right side Jacqueline Coulter continues to be an athlete that refines her movement patterns and is elevating her game. She has some significant genetic gifts … her father Al is a two-time Olympian in the sport of volleyball and her mom Michelle is an Olympic gold medallist in synchronized swimming. Her older sister is now playing volleyball professionally oversees after a five-year career at UBC and Team Canada experience. Her older brother is currently a veteran on the SAIT men’s volleyball team.”
Coach Dahl added, “Of our new players, we have a lot of variety as well including several transfers and two true first year athletes. Even our newest and brightest come with impressive resumes and tons of experience.”
The Chargers welcome eight student-athletes to the program this season.
Alexa Ellis (Nanaimo) is a fourth-year veteran transfer returning to the Island and now playing alongside her sister, Taylor Ellis. Alexa was at the helm of the Keyano College offense in the ACAC for the past three seasons.
First-year Charger Allie Waddell (Chandler, AZ) comes from the Brentwood College volleyball program that is under the direction of Head Coach Jill Fougner which annually ranks among the best high school teams in the province.
Jenna Pearce (Parksville) joins the Chargers in her third year of eligibility. She is a Team BC alumni and a transfer from within the PACWEST. Jenna is another great athlete in a strong line of Chargers from Ballenas Secondary in Parksville.
Newcomer Jordan Lilley (Kimberley, BC) is an accomplished beach athlete and comes from one of the top club programs in the province after playing for highly regarded Coach Becki Kosinksi in the Junior Heat program based out of Kelowna.
Suiting up for the Chargers in their second year are Katie Wayling (Castlegar, BC) who previously played at Palm Beach State in Florida and Megan Ireland who returns to the court after playing her rookie year at SFU. Megan adds to an already impressive list of Courtenay athletes to wear the Chargers uniform in recent years. Both Megan and Katie are former Team BC athletes.
Fourth-year Kayla Nixon (Calgary, AB) is a veteran athlete having competed with SAIT in the ACAC for the past three seasons. In her most recent campaign Kayla was recognized as an ACAC All-star.
In her third year of post-secondary competition, Paige Hamilton (Phoenix, AZ) transfers to Camosun and returns to Victoria after a number of years south of the border including two years of play at Yavapai College in Arizona.
“Try as we might, we don’t know how this season will play out,” comments Coach Dahl. “But what is evident is that we have incredible women emerging in our program and our contributions will come from a variety of sources. The strength of the program is truly the program. There is great depth of talent and ability on our half of the net.”
The Chargers open the season in Victoria this Thursday and Friday, October 13 and 14 against the College of the Rockies Avalanche. Matches are 6pm women and 8pm men on both evenings at the Pacific Institute for Sport Excellence.