The University of the Fraser Valley women’s volleyball program has added three talents set to join the team starting with the 2022-23 Canada West season.
Lauren Way and Amy Bennett join the Cascades from the B.C. high school ranks, while Natalie Lemoine-Sells is a top-rated high school player out of Manitoba. All three are wrapping up their Grade 12 studies and will join the Cascades next fall.
“We’re starting to bring in recruits who have U Sports aspirations and U Sports capabilities,” Cascades head coach Janelle Rozema stated. “We do have quite a few players graduating in the next one to two years, so this is a class that will have every opportunity to earn larger roles, including significant playing time, earlier in their careers.”
🏔🏐️ | The Cascades women's volleyball program is pleased to introduce its first Class of 2022 recruits!
✅ Lauren Way
✅ Natalie Lemoine-Sells
✅ Amy Bennett
— UFV Cascades (@UFVCascades) December 15, 2021
Way, a 6-1 middle out of Port Coquitlam’s Riverside Secondary, has been an important player for the Riverside Rapids program over the past four years. She was part of provincial championships at the junior level in Grades 9 and 10, and after a 2020 high school campaign lost to COVID-19, she and her teammates came back strong and won the B.C. 4A title last week in Nanaimo. Way was named a second team tournament all-star.
Way has also been part of Team B.C., and won a title with the Zone 4 regional squad.
“Lauren knows how to win, and she’s got a really fun personality that’s going to enrich our team culture,” Rozema said. “She’s an excellent communicator and a really intelligent middle blocker, and her experience on winning teams and representing B.C. at the national level makes her a really valuable asset.”
Bennett, a 5-9 setter out of Kelowna Christian School, helped lead her school to success over the course of her high school career. She was part of a B.C. Single A championship-winning squad in 2019, and a bronze medal performance at the B.C. Christian Schools tournament in 2020. Bennett earned tourney all-star honours on both occasions.
On the club scene, Bennett captained teams with the B.C. provincial program and the Junior Heat club.
“Amy is very self-motivated, a highly intelligent setter, and a bold and confident communicator,” Rozema said. “As a coach, that makes her really trustworthy to me, knowing that she’ll have the ability to run our offence well.”
Lemoine-Sells, a 6-0 outside hitter from Manitoba, captained the College Jeanne-Sauve Olympiens and was recognized as a 4A conference all-star, a St. Vital tournament all-star, and a 4A graduating provincial all-star. She was also the No. 2-ranked player in Manitoba according to a Manitoba High School Athletic Association coaches’ poll.
She also excelled on the club scene over the years, both indoor and beach. She won a U13/U14 league championship, and won gold (U18) and silver (U14) medals at the provincial beach championships.
“Natalie has the physicality we’re looking for in a U Sports player, in terms of her height and her ability to jump and touch at a high point,” Rozema said. “She’s a tall, high-flyer. Often with tall players, you pay a price in terms of other ball control-type skills, but with Natalie you don’t. She’s a really well-rounded volleyball player.”
This season marks the women’s and men’s team’s first foray into CW action. The women have a record of 1-5 and the men sit at 0-6.
The next scheduled games will be the first home volleyball dates in program history, as the UBCO-Heat are set to come to Abbotsford on Jan. 14 and 15.