Women's Volleyball reloads with outstanding recruits

April 29th, 2018

The VIU Mariners Women’s Volleyball team is still pinching themselves to see if the success of the 2017/18 season is true. The Mariner Women walked away as the CCAA National champions after a slightly rocky PACWEST season that saw them go 16-8. The team knew that they were better than their Provincial record showed and it took another trip to the National Championships to show off their potential. The Mariner’s took down all #1 seeds from Quebec, Alberta and BC. How does a team improve on this? They do it again. That is what the Mariner Women’s Volleyball team is preparing to do.

The Mariners are no stranger to success. They have been the power house program for over 2 decades. Since 1995/96, 23 seasons, the team has had one of the most impressive success rates ever in the history of Canadian college sport. The team has amassed a league record of 366 wins with only 50 losses.  Since that time the Mariner women have never failed to medal at their Provincial championships, capturing 3 Bronze, 5 Silver, and 15 Gold medals.  The Mariner Volleyball Program has appeared at 15 of the last 17 National championships. Out of those 15 National trips the team has captured 12 medals 4 Bronze, 4 Silver and 4 Gold Medals.    

So how does the new 2018/19 Mariner team live up to all this? They reload. The team has all but 2 players back from last year’s squad including, CCAA All-Canadian and National Championship MVP Mikayla Wagner who is back for her final season.  Joining the returning players is a group of outstanding recruits who will instantly improve the already strong female Mariners squad. The Mariners are excited to have such a skilled group of recruits join the program and hopefully start off where they left off as the top CCAA program in the country. The 2018/19 recruiting class are:

Josie Heeney joins the Mariners after a long and very successful club and school career. Josie is a Libero from Ingersoll, Ontario. Josie is currently finishing her final year at Ingersoll District Collegiate Institute and is playing club for the Halton Hurricanes. Josie is a very experienced player and is no stranger to success. Heeney has just captured the 2018 U18 Ontario Provincial club Gold Medal to go along with her  2 Provincial Silver Medals as well as 1 Bronze and 3 Silver medals at the National level. Josie was selected to Team Ontario last season (2017).  In all 4 of Josie’s High school years she started at numerous positions and was the captain and leader in her grade 9, 11 and 12 years. Josie does not stop playing when the indoor season ends, in fact she plays even more and at an even higher level. Josie has dominated the beach volleyball scene in Ontario the past 5 years. Her defensive skill and her knowledge of the game make her a very skilled beach volleyball player. Josie has won 2 Bronze and a Silver in her past Provincial Beach Volleyball Championships and even more impressive has won 3 Beach National Volleyball Championships in a row and qualified for Worlds in Brazil for Beach Volleyball! With the departure of standout 3rd year libero Kelsey Hutt, the Mariners are very excited and fortunate to have a player of Josie’s skill join the program. When asked to comment, Mariners Head coach Shane Hyde had this to say, “Josie is a competitor and a very smart defensive player. Her passing and calmness on the court was the first thing I noticed when I watched her for the first time. I love her confidence and I am positive she will make a major impact on our team immediately,”

Kendall Stephan also joins the Mariners from Ontario. Kendall is an outside hitter from Barrie, Ontario where she was a member of the Eastview Secondary wildcats. Kendall has played her last two years of club volleyball for the Leaside Lightning. Although Kendall lives in Barrie she commutes 4 hours to Toronto to train with her Leaside Club. Her decision to leave her Barrie Volleyball club paid off last season. Her U17 Leaside club managed to capture the gold medal at the provincial Championships. They went on to capture the Silver medal at the U17 National Championships. Even though Kendall’s team lost in the National final she was still awarded the U17 national MVP award. Her Leaside U18 team has just finished with a bronze medal at the 2018 Ontario Provincial Finals. Kendall’s volleyball success does not stop with indoor. She is a very skilled and experienced beach volleyball player also. Kendall has been playing elite beach volleyball for the past 5 years and in 2016 and 2017 she was selected to the Team Ontario Beach team.  Coach Shane Hyde had this to say about the future Mariner star, “Kendall plays with passion and is a strong presence on the court. Her ability to end rallies was what I first took notice of. I love the fire she shows on the court and her strong defense and blocking add to an already dynamic player. Kendall will be a key piece to the future success of the Mariner program and we are very excited to have her join our team.” 

The Third recruit to join the Mariners is Portia Switzer. Portia is a setter from Regina, Saskatchewan. Portia is finishing up her final season at Luther College High School and has been part of the Junior Cougar Club volleyball program for the past 5 years. Portia has been a member of Team Saskatchewan for the past 4 years and was also a member of team Saskatchewan at the Canada games as an under aged player. Portia was the recipient of the 16U Saskatchewan Volleyball Association Female Athlete of the Year Award. Portia joins the Mariners as their 2018 President scholar based on her high GPA.  Coach Hyde commented, “Portia is a very experienced player. Her whole career has been about her playing up on older teams and performing very well. We are very excited to have someone with her skill and experience join our team. Current Captain and setter, Chantal Cumming will be graduating at the end of this season so I thought it was important to bring in a very skilled setter to learn under Cumming and carry on the strong Mariner setting tradition.”

The Final recruit to join the Mariners could go down as one of the most talented players to ever play at VIU. Karoline Tormena is a 6’-2” Outside hitter from Brusque, Brazil. Karoline has been playing Volleyball since the age of 9. She has been a member of the Brazilian National team program since she was 15. Karoline was a member of the State Champions in her U14, U15, and U16 years and in all three years received the MVP award. In her U16 year she was National Champion as well as a member of the Gold medal team in the South American Championship playing for the National team. The list of Karolina’s achievements are way too long to list but a few highlights include;  numerous MVP’s in international tournaments, Pan American Cup Champion (U18), 3rd place World Championship (U18) National Team, Best hitter and bronze medal at the Minas Cup, AAU Champion in Orlando-Florida, South American Champions (U19) national team, 2nd place at world U21 Championships. Karoline has spent the past 3 seasons playing professional volleyball at one of the top clubs, Minas Club of the Brazilian Superleague. She plays alongside famous professional women’s volleyball players, Jaqueline from Brazil and Destiny Hooker from the United States. Coach Hyde had this to say about Karoline, “unbelievable! That is the first word that comes to my mind. We are so excited to have a player of Karoline’s caliber join an already stacked team. “Carol” will make every player around her so much better. This is like being a junior hockey team and having Wayne Gretzky join the program. Her skills speak for themselves but what I am most excited for is her experience and work ethic to rub off on all these young players joining the team. She is a great person and I can’t wait for her to experience the Mariner and Canadian culture here at VIU.”