Canada West Communications
- Alberta Panda Meg Casault is the Canada West Player of the Year after setting the conference career record for kills (1,321)
- Pandas head coach Laurie Eisler is the 2016-17 Coach of the Year, while Kearley Abbott (Manitoba – Rookie of the Year), and Robyn Potolicki (Mount Royal – Student-Athlete Community Service) also claimed awards
- The Canada West Women's Volleyball Final Four is slated for this Friday and Saturday at the University of Alberta
EDMONTON – For the first time in a decade, the Canada West Women's Volleyball Player of the Year hails from the University of Alberta.
Outside hitter Meg Casault was named the conference's 2016-17 Player of the Year Tuesday after leading the Pandas to a first-place finish during the regular season. The Edmonton, Alta. native recorded 327 kills in her final year with the Pandas, breaking the all-time Canada West kills record earlier this season with her 1,255th career kill. Her milestone broke an 11-year old conference record which was set by Pandas alumni, and former team MVP Tawana McLeod (nee Wardlaw). Casault ended her career with 1,321 kills to her name.
Along with Casault, Alberta had a second major award win, as head coach Laurie Eisler was named the Canada West Coach of the Year. This is the sixth time Eisler has won the conference award, and the first since 2009. She also won the award in 1995, 1996, 2003, and 2004, earning U SPORTS Coach of the Year in '95, '03, and '04.
Eisler led the Alberta Pandas to an incredible 22-2 conference record this season, earning the No. 1 seed and the right to host the Canada West Final Four. The Pandas perfect 20-0 start set a new program record for both wins to start a season, and consecutive conference wins, besting the 16 in a row they set in 1994-95.
Also claiming major awards Tuesday were Mount Royal's Robyn Potolicki (Student-Athlete Community Service) and Kearley Abbott of Manitoba (Rookie of the Year).
The conference's 13 head coaches selected the major awards, along with the all-star and all-rookie teams, which were unveiled Monday, March 6.
Casault will take the floor this weekend at the Canada West Women's Volleyball Final Four in Edmonton, as the Alberta Pandas welcome the Trinity Western Spartans, UBC Thunderbirds, and UBCO Heat to town. Game times are 6:30 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. MT Friday (semifinals), with the medal round set for Saturday at 5:00 p.m. (bronze) and 6:30 p.m. (gold) MT.
Every Canada West Final Four game can be seen live on CanadaWest.tv
Three national championship berths are up for grabs this weekend at the Canada West Final Four, as teams look for a trip to the U SPORTS Women's Volleyball Championship at Ryerson University in Toronto March 17-19.
2016-17 CW Women's Volleyball Award Winners
Player of the Year
Fifth-year University of Alberta Pandas outside hitter Meg Casault has been awarded the Canada West women's volleyball Player of the Year Award.
Casault is the first Panda to win the Player of the Year award since Tiffany Dodds accomplished the feat in 2007, which was also the last time the Pandas won the national championship.
The Edmonton, Alberta native recorded 327 kills in her final year with the Pandas, breaking the all-time Canada West kills record earlier this season with her 1,255th career kill. Her milestone broke an 11-year old conference record which was set by Pandas alumni, and former team MVP Tawana McLeod (nee Wardlaw), ending her career with 1,321 kills to her name.
Casault's 327 kills were also the six-highest in Canada West, while her 3.94 kills per set mark was the fourth-highest in the conference. The Physical Education and Recreation student also recorded 193 digs and 28 aces this year.
"Meg is an extremely deserving recipient of the Player of the Year Award. Since her first year with the team she has shown a remarkable improvement in every aspect of the game due to her humility and commitment to continuous improvement. She is not only a leader on the court but serves as one of our team captains, and is an inspiration to all of us who have had the pleasure and honour to work with her." – Alberta head coach Laurie Eisler.
Rookie of the Year
Hometown product Kearley Abbott enjoyed one of the best rookie seasons in Manitoba Bisons history, as the 5'11" first-year finished 11th in conference kills with 247, while starting all 24 games for the Herd.
Her 675 total attacks was good for 12th in Canada West this season, while her 306 points was eighth in the conference.
Abbott's win is the third by a Manitoba Bison, since the Herd became full Canada West members beginning with the 2001-02 season. Manitoba's previous rookies of the year were Ashley Voth (2006-07) and Samantha Loewen (2007-08). Both went on to win the national rookie of the year award, which Abbott will now look to accomplish.
"Kearley had an amazing first year as a member of the Bisons. She was an absolute pleasure to coach. Kearley is a very competitive player both on the court and in the weight room. She plays the game very aggressively and will only continue to improve over time. It was a dream season for a first-year player who led the team in numerous categories." – Manitoba head coach Jon Hykawy.
Student-Athlete Community Service Award
When Potolicki isn't playing volleyball, she's giving back to Mount Royal University by participating in mentorship programs, serving on the athletics advisory council, participating in the marketing coop program, as well as working part-time with MRU Career Services as a student events marketing assistant.
In addition to being a role model for her teammates and classmates, she has been an overall ambassador for MRU. She consistently takes advantage of the resources that the school promotes such as utilizing wellness services, career services, and the academic advising services. Through her hard work in the classroom and on the court, Potolicki has been a major part of creating a positive image for the athletics program at MRU.
"Robyn has been a member of my program for her full five years of eligibility. Through these years I have seen her grow into not only an amazing teammate, but classmate, friend and valued member of the community. Whether on or off the court, Robyn's leadership skills and ability to bring a positive energy to the team is undeniably contagious. She is constantly taking the steps to better herself as an individual every day, and is never shy to take on any new challenge that may be placed in front of her." – Mount Royal head coach Sandra Lamb.
Coach of the Year
Long standing University of Alberta Pandas volleyball head coach Laurie Eisler has been selected as the 2016-17 Canada West women's volleyball Coach of the Year. This is the sixth time Eisler has won the conference award, and the first since 2009. She also won the award in 1995, 1996, 2003, and 2004, earning U SPORTS Coach of the Year in 95, 03, and 04.
Eisler led the Alberta Pandas to an incredible 22-2 conference record this season, earning the No. 1 seed and the right to host the Canada West Final Four. The Pandas perfect 20-0 start set a new program record for both wins to start a season, and consecutive conference wins, besting the 16 in a row they set in 1994-95. It is also the second time in three seasons the Pandas have finished the conference season as the No. 1 seeded team.
In her 25 years coaching the Pandas, Eisler has become the University of Alberta's all-time winningest coach, amassing 722 career overall wins, becoming just the second coach in Alberta history to reach 700 wins (Clare Drake – 720).
"Laurie Eisler has delivered on every front in her 25 years with the Pandas. Her teams are always in the running for a national championship, which speaks to both excellence and consistency. Both are hard to achieve in university sport. Her athletes are academically successful, and many go on to professional careers and national teams. The University of Alberta is very fortunate to have Laurie Eisler as an outstanding member of our prestigious institution." – Alberta athletic director Ian Reade.