As the Heat women's volleyball team prepares for their second round playoff series this weekend the Canada West conference has released their regular season conference awards, and UBC Okanagan have once again placed a pair of players on the all-star teams.
Aidan Lea, the third year middle, has found herself on the first team, and fifth year outside hitter Michelle Jakszuk was rewarded for the strongest season of her career with a spot on the second team.
This marks the fifth straight year the Heat have won at least one round in the Canada West postseason and the sixth straight year the UBCO women's volleyball team has placed at least one player on a Canada West All-Star team.
Although coach Manuel is extremely happy with his team's success in placing student athletes on the all-star teams, he also laments that many players who have had very strong performances aren't also recognized. For instance this year's team was extremely well rounded and was the first, and perhaps only, CW squad to have four players with over 225 kills.
"It must be a difficult task for the coaches around the Canada West Conference to decide who to vote when considering our players," commented Manuel. "We have such a well-rounded group that I believe any of our starting lineup could have been recognized. Siobhan Fitzpatrick had another great season, Erin Drew is a top middle blocker, Ann Richards was our top point producer in several key matches and Sara McCreary leads Canada West in assists, which is the only statistic for setters."
Being placed on the first team is starting middle Aidan Lea, who put together a great offensive season out of the middle for coach Steve Manuel's nationally ranked squad.
The numbers are impressive for Lea, who in just her second season with the Heat team has become one of the top attackers out of the middle position across the country.
Lea played in all 24 matches for UBCO finishing with 226 kills and 2.57 kills/set, and both of those numbers are top-15 in the conference. What separates Lea from the rest of the pack is how few attacks it took her to amass those numbers, as she was set just 438 times Lea's attack rate was second best in the conference (.336). A well rounded player, Lea finished with 23 service aces and when teams chose to attack the 6'6" Kelowna product they were turned back 75 times as Lea finished with 75 total blocks and 21 solo blocks, second best in the conference.
Happy to have his Junior Heat Club player in his lineup every day coach Manuel was even more happy to see his player rewarded with conference recognition.
"Aidan has been a force for the two years she has been playing for UBCO, after a great playoff run last season Aidan was selected to the national team in the spring and has continued to evolve her game. After a full summer with the national team and playing internationally, Lea, the Kelowna Secondary and Junior Heat product has been a difference maker in several matches again this year."
Joining Lea on the all-conference team is Michelle Jakszuk, a fifth year outside hitter with eye-popping athleticism form Gibsons, BC.
One of only two fifth year members of the Heat team this season, Jakszuk embraced a leadership role. After graduating nine players since their run at the national championship two seasons ago the new look squad more than ever before needed leaders, Jakszuk not only led the team in the locker room but she also let her effort and success on the court symbolize how to play and how the team should always go for it. Her aggressiveness was mirrored with the on-court results as UBCO always looked to push the advantage resulting in only going to one five-set match all season long.
The on-court numbers look like this for Jakszuk. She too played in all 24 matches for the Heat and was tops on the team with 246 kills, good enough for 12th best in the conference. Her kills per set (2.80) and attack rate (.202) ranked 11th and 14th across the conference respectively. Having the best year of her career Jakszuk joined the 500-500 career club (kills and digs) when she had a career year on defence with 228 digs, averaging 2.59 per set, 17th best in the conference and one of the top marks for a non-libero.
Also on defence Jakszuk was a strength at the net with 51 total blocks – also one of the best numbers from a player on the outside.
The Elphinstone Secondary grad's well-rounded game allowed her to score 292 points, averaging 3.3 points per set.
Manuel found it easy to praise Jakszuk's conference all-star selection on her outstanding fifth year at UBCO but also pointed out that his outside hitter from the Island has been a key producer on a winning run for her entire five-season run.
"I am very pleased for Michelle that she is being recognized for her performance so far this season, she is a major point producer, a primary passer and a fierce blocker. Michelle has been a big reason for our success this year but also throughout her career, helping our team to once again be one of the final four teams remaining in Canada West, for the 5th year running."
UBC Okanagan will continue their quest for a first ever CW conference championship banner this weekend with a best-of-three at War Memorial, playing against the Thunderbirds. Match one on Friday has a first serve set for 6 p.m. PST.
List of Canada West All-Stars for UBC Okanagan:
2017/18: First team: Hamish Walde (MSOC); First team: Aidan Lea (WVB); Second team: Mitch McCaw (MSOC), Lars Bornemann (MVB), Michelle Jakszuk (WVB)
2016/17: First team: Mitch McCaw (MSOC); Second team: Kaitlynn Given (WVB)
2015/16: First team: Katie Wuttunee (WVB); Second team: Katy Klomps (WVB), Brianna Beamish (WVB)
2014/15: First team: Katy Klomps (WVB); Second team: Katie Wuttunee (WVB)
2013/14: Second team: Katy Klomps (WVB)
2012/13: Second team: Emily Oxland (WVB)
2011/12: Second team: Nate Speijer (MVB)
UBC Okanagan, has now earned 15 Canada West All-Star awards overall since it joined the Canada West Universities Athletic Association in September of 2011. Soccer started competing in Canada West in the fall of 2014.
2017-18 CW WOMEN'S VOLLEYBALL ALL-STARS & ALL-ROOKIES
Name / Position / University / Year / Hometown
Katelyn Devaney / M / Trinity Western / 5 / Port Coquitlam, B.C.
Alessandra Gentile / S / UBC / 5 / Port Moody, B.C.
Aidan Lea / M / UBCO / 3 / Kelowna, B.C.
Kate Pexman / OH / Calgary / 3 / Calgary, Alta.
Kiera Van Ryk / OH / UBC / 1 / Surrey, B.C.
Beth Vinnell / M / Calgary / 3 / Cochrane, Alta.
Kory White / OH / Alberta / 2 / Edmonton, Alta.
Name / Position / University / Year / Hometown
Kearley Abbott / OH / Manitoba / 2 / Winnipeg, Man.
Alex Donaghy / OH / Mount Royal / 5 / Sylvan Lake, Alta.
Hilary Howe / OH / Trinity Western / 2 / Calgary, Alta.
Michelle Jakszuk / OH / UBCO / 5 / Gibsons, B.C.
Nikala Majewski / OH / Brandon / 4 / Winnipeg, Man.
Eryn Orysiuk / S / Alberta / 5 / Edmonton, Alta.
Satomi Togawa / S / Regina / 2 / Uji, Japan
Name / Position / University / Hometown
Michelle Egger / OH / Brandon / Schwarzenbach, Switzerland
Jenae Eisler / L / Alberta / Edmonton, Alta.
Avery Heppel / M / Trinity Western / Langley, B.C.
Jessica Lerminiaux / OH / Regina / Regina, Sask.
Anastasiya Muzyka / S / Thompson Rivers / Poltawa, Ukraine
Kiera Van Ryk / OH / UBC / Surrey, B.C.
Julia Zonneveld / OH / Alberta / Calgary, Alta.
NOTE: The CW all-stars and all-rookies were selected by the conference's 13 women's volleyball head coaches.
Full Canada West release here: http://www.canadawest.org/sports/wvball/2017-18/releases/20180227wvballstars