New team, same result?

Blues women’s volleyball is hoping to find the same success with a new roster

Luka Vasic // Contributor

“Honestly, it is fair to say it’s rebuilding,” said Tyneille Neufeld, last year’s team MVP and newly appointed captain. After medaling at provincials in each of the last four seasons, the Capilano University Blues women’s volleyball team now finds themselves in a transitional season. “It’s really interesting to see how it’s going to go, because with any team when you lose a core group of players and then get so many new faces, it’s kind of always a rebuild,” Neufeld added.

Last season saw the Blues achieve a variety of personal and team accomplishments. Playing her first year for Capilano, Neufeld led the team to a 17-7 season alongside returning core players like Kira Sutcliffe and Sarah Hughes.

The Blues were rewarded for their success on the court, with four players receiving Pacific Western Athletic Association (PACWEST) honours: Hughes and Sutcliffe were named PACWEST First Team All-Stars, Neufeld was named a PACWEST Second Team All-Star, and Anika Kolybaba was included in the PACWEST All-Rookie Team.

The team made a strong playoff push, starting with a win over the Camosun College Chargers in a comeback victory, and earning a trip to the semi-finals. Unfortunately, the team fell just short in a nail-biter against the Douglas College Royals, but were able to sweep the College of the Rockies Avalanche and earn their third straight bronze medal. Neufeld was named the Player of the Match.

This offseason proved to be the beginning of a transition for the Blues, with the team losing four of its core players. Hughes, Kelsi Boroevich and Kolby Richter all played in their last seasons of eligibility, and Kira Sutcliffe went pro, now playing for Brondby Volleyball Klub in Copenhagen, Denmark.

This year’s team features an exciting mix of new recruits and returning players. “A lot of the girls coming in have really strong work ethic,” said Neufeld. Newcomers to look out for include Emma Schill and Mackenzy Sparks- Guest, whom have already made quite the impression on the newly appointed captain. “In practice, they were putting on quite the performance,” Neufeld added, “it’s really exciting to see them come in and be so dynamic as first years.”

In her first season, Neufeld learned a great deal from the team’s veterans and coaching staff, but this season she finds herself in the opposite roll, as the team now features an ensemble of new players. Last year’s unit thrived off chemistry and trust according to Neufeld. “We need to trust in each-other, trust in ourselves, and trust the coaching,” she said. The maturity and knowledge of the game last year’s group of women showed resonated with Neufeld. She plans on carrying that focus into this season, hoping that the rookies will latch on to that mentality.

Though the team features many young new players, their expectations of themselves have not changed. The goal for the regular season is to build chemistry, but Neufeld envisions the team putting on a show come playoff time, and continuing their medal streak. “[We need to] focus on figuring out what we need to change for provincials,” she said about the regular season. “My passing and defense were a strong asset to the team,” she recalled from last year, but this year she plans to build on her offence and to, as she put it, “grow into the captain the team needs.”

Though the Blues will face growing pains any young team would face in their rst season together, Capilano’s women’s volleyball team is ready for the challenge. Their season opens in October, with a Friday the 13th home match against the Royals. “There are going to be plenty of emotions from everyone,” Neufeld admitted. “We’re going to try to kill those emotions, go in with a clean slate, take it as another game, and just play volleyball.”

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