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This will certainly be an interesting year for the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack women’s volleyball team. Head coach Chad Grimm and assistants Nathan and Robin Bennett along with Behlul Yavasgel have been preparing for this year.
The 2017-18 campaign will be the first one for the program(since Grimm took over the helm of the program) without Iuliia Pakhomenko. The player who was arguably the best player in Canadian University women’s volleyball the past three seasons has played out her athletic eligibility.
Over the course of the last year, Grimm and his assistants have been transitioning the offense to rely on a ‘team approach’ without a ‘superstar’.
That approach goes into regular rotation this year.
The loss of Pakhomenko is huge but that doesn’t mean everything is lost. The WolfPack have retained a lot of key offensive weapons. Rachel Windhorst (Surrey, BC) returned to U Sports play last year after redshirting. The former National First Team All-star will lead the TRU offense. She will be joined by setter Abby Spratt (Calgary, AB) and Mikayla Funk (South Surrey, BC). Both were Canada West All-Rookie selections. The versatile Kendra Finch (North Vancouver, BC) enters her third year with the ability to play multiple court positions including outside hitter.
Grimm has brought in three players who will make their presence felt in Ukranian Yevgeniya Nykukhalova (outside hitter), Ukrainian now Canadian citizen Anastasiia Muzyka (setter) and outside hitter Morgan Rigelhof (outside hitter) who was with University of Alberta-Augustana (ACAC) last year.
The other fresh face belongs to Katie Ludvig. The daughter of former NHL’er Jan Ludvig is a multi-sport athlete who will play libero and outside hitter.
Sophomores who will fight for increased playing time this year are Hali Drezet (Prince George, BC) and Avery Pottle (middle, Uxbridge, ON).
Veterans Kaitlin Lomas (Ponoka, AB)—the team’s lone fifth year starter and Carly Gunter (Courtenay, BC), a two time U Sports Academic All Canadian will also play key roles this year. Samantha Sonnenberg (Edmonton, AB) and Sarah Loedel (Prince George, BC) are both coming off the bench to provide stability. Both Sonnenberg and Loedel will be graduating from their programs in 2017-18.
The team’s preseason includes a trip to Eastern Canada for exhibition matches in Laval, Quebec and Ottawa Ontario.