LANGLEY, British Columbia – The Trinity Western women’s volleyball team opens its Canada West regular season this weekend and will do so ranked No. 1 in the country. Coming off a Canada West championship season in which the Spartans also won a U Sports (formerly CIS) silver medal, the Spartans have a strong returning contingent that has the potential to lead the best women’s volleyball team TWU has ever put on the floor.
The Spartans open their regular season on the road against Regina Friday and Saturday. Both games can be seen live at www.canadawest.tv.
The Spartans will have arguably the best one-two punch in the country on the outside with right side Elly Wendel (Caronport, Sask.), who played with Canada’s national team this summer, and left side Sophie Carpentier (Ottawa), who led TWU in kills per set last year (3.82). Last year, Wendel was a U Sports First Team All-Canadian while Carpentier was a Second Team All-Canadian and with both players in their fifth year of eligibility, much is expected of one of the most dynamic attacking duos in Spartans history. The third outside position remains up for grabs as TWU has a number of options and a deep bench in which to utilize.
U Sports Second Team All-Canadian Katie Devaney (Port Coquitlam, B.C.) is back after a dominant year last season in which she was second in the conference with 1.25 blocks per set. With the departure of Kristin Anton (Prince George, B.C.), who is pursuing a modelling career, the Spartans will look to the likes of transfer Ashtyn McKenzie (Vernon, B.C.), Jessica Bailey (Surrey, B.C.) and Alison Quiring (Brandon, Man.) to join Devaney in the middle.
Fourth-year Nikki Cornwall (Coquitlam, B.C.) is back and the U Sports First Team All-Canadian has the tools to take yet another step forward in her development. Last year, she led Canada West with 10.45 assists per set and there’s no reason to believe she can’t equal or better that mark this year. Behind Cornwall is the jack-of-all-trades Brie O’Reilly (Langley), who can realistically fill in quite nicely at setter, outside or even libero.
After missing all of last year due to injury, Rachel Flink (Surrey, B.C.) is back and set to take over as the starting libero. She will help bolster TWU’s backcourt and will be a stabilizing force for the Spartans.
TWU coach Ryan Hofer said: “I think this group is excited to get the season going and I think there is a lot of motivation considering how last season ended. While it was a really good season, I think we were left a little disappointed in the end and we want to try to remedy that.
“To be successful, we’re going to have to have a solid kill efficiency and we’re going to have to be able really pass the ball well. We’re in a league that has teams that serve really tough and it’s going to be really important to get the ball to our setters, so they can deliver it to our hitters.”
BY THE NUMBERS
2015-16 CW regular season record: 20-4, 3rd
2015-16 post-season record: 4-0, 1st
Last CW championship / total CW championships: 2016 / 2
Last CIS championship / total CIS championships: 2015/ 1
2015 CW regular season ranks:
Points per set: 17.4, 1st
Kills per set: 12.51, 4th
Hitting percentage: .235, 3rd
2015 CW regular season leaders:
Kills: 3.82/set – Sophie Carpentier, Left Side
Digs: 3.44 – Mariel Garcia, Libero
Blocks: 1.25 – Katie Devaney, Middle
Aces: 0.48 – Sophie Carpentier, Left Side
Assists: 10.45 – Nikki Cornwall, Setter
Key additions (name / position / eligibility / hometown / last team):
Hilary Howe / Outside / 1 / Calgary / EP Scarlett
Ashtyn McKenzie / Middle / Vernon, B.C. / Vernon
Sophie Stone / Setter / 1 / Surrey, B.C. / Pacific Academy
Alexis Jonker / Left Side/Libero / 1 / Surrey, B.C. / Pacific Academy
Key losses (name / position / hometown / years with program):
Mariel Garcia / Libero / Winnipeg / 1
Kristin Anton / Middle / Prince George, B.C. / 2