Captain Tyneille Neufeld sidelined with injury

Ankle sprain could put star hitter out of commission until the playoffs

JUSTIN SCOTT // MANAGING EDITOR

Two weeks ago, the Capilano University Blues women’s volleyball team looked as though they may never lose again. They had won six games in a row and were on roll. However, one fateful practice proved how fragile a winning team can be. “We run the play, it’s a tight set so I go in and I’m reaching for it,” said team captain, Tyneille Neufeld. “I reached for it a little bit too much, I came down wrong and my momentum carried my foot over.” Just the day before their match against the top ranked Vancouver Island University (VIU) Mariners, Neufeld had suffered a high-ankle sprain in practice.

“We were just starting to get in a pretty good groove,” said head coach Cal Wohlford. “We were on a six-game win streak and had a great weekend over at COTR [The College of the Rockies]. It was a good groove practice that we were having, everyone was in a good mood and then all of a sudden we see her crawling across the floor, crying.”

More frustrating, is that this wasn’t the first major injury to affect the team this season. Third-year middle Meghan Koven also injured her ankle earlier in the season and had just started to get back into the team’s rotation when Neufeld went down. “It’s part of the game,” Wohlford said.

Their first test as a team with Neufeld out came two weekends ago in back-to-back games against VIU – both of which VIU won. “Our passing was good, our defense was good,” Wohlford said. “It’s just that we weren’t getting any kills and were making more errors than earning points.” The team’s lack of kills was not all that shocking as Neufeld is second in the Pacific Western Athletic Association (PACWEST) in the category with 217 on the season and third in points per set with 3.8.

Photo c/o Capilano Blues Athletics

However, all is not lost for the young team. Although Neufeld is one of the squad’s key players, they have a wealth of left side hitters. Wohlford is expecting  rookie standouts, Sarah Curleigh and Emma Schill, to step into Neufeld’s shoes while she recovers.

Although the team dropped both games that weekend, they came away with a positive perspective. “Curleigh stepped in Saturday and played really well,” Neufeld said. “I’m not overly worried,” Wohlford added.

For now, all the team can do is continue to fight and hope Neufeld’s ankle heals quickly. “I’m hoping for four weeks,” she said, targeting their game against the Douglas College Royals as a potential return date. Until then, she’s trying to contribute to the team in any way she can. Neufeld plans on watching lots of film to scout opponents and see what the Blues need to work on. Encouragingly, she’s already back in the gym. “I’ve already been passing against the wall and setting against the wall, so little movement with my feet but still getting the contact with my hands.” She also plans on trying to be as active as possible from the bench during games and practices. “I’m trying to be a voice from the bench for sure. I’m going to try to be the eyes and the voice and help out my fellow left sides and the team,” she said.

With Neufeld’s target return date coming just a week before the PACWEST’s provincial tournament, she won’t have much time to get back into a rhythm. “Obviously it would be nice to get her back before provincials, so that she can play a little bit,” Wolhford said.

So, while the team is hoping to get their star hitter back as soon as possible, they’re also aware that injuries are unpredictable. Luckily for them, while they may be young, they’re also deep, which they proved this past weekend splitting their games with the University of the Fraser Valley Cascades. With a bench full of talent, they’re hoping to find success no matter who’s on the floor as the regular season comes to an end and playoffs begin.

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