The University of the Fraser Valley women’s volleyball program has signed a seven-player recruiting class, and it’s a group that brings a lot of experience to the table.
Four of the seven newcomers are transferring from other post-secondary squads, giving Cascades head coach Mike Gilray an infusion of veteran seasoning alongside some promising young talent. All seven players hail from B.C.
Shaylene Reimer (Surrey) returns to the Fraser Valley after playing NCAA Div. 1 volleyball at the University of New Orleans last year; Cassidy Pearson (Tsawwassen) and Kim Bauder (Langley) are transferring from the Manitoba Bisons and the Memorial Sea-Hawks programs, respectively; and Jessica Funk (Surrey) comes to UFV from the Douglas Royals.
Joining the Cascades straight out of high school are Hanna Hieltjes (New Westminster), Teagan Johnstone (Langley) and Amanda Matsui (Port Coquitlam).
“We were very young last year, and by bringing in transfer students, we’re able to fill holes throughout our five-year cycle,” Gilray noted. “We’ve gained some size and some great ball control, and in terms of the level of competition at practice, they’ll make us a better team, for sure.”
Playing for the New Orleans Privateers last season, Reimer averaged 2.69 digs and 0.38 aces per set, and was named to the all-tournament team at the FGCU Hilton Garden Inn Classic.
Reimer, who can also play outside hitter and has a dynamic swing, had a much-decorated high school career at Surrey’s Pacific Academy. She won bronze and gold medals in 2013 and 2014, respectively, at the B.C. AA senior girls championship and earned first team all-star honours both years. She’s also a past member of the B.C. provincial team program, winning a silver medal at the U17 national championship.
Gilray first took note of Reimer during a game between Pacific Academy and Surrey Christian in 2015, before she headed down to New Orleans.
“Shay absolutely stood out in that match as a player who had no fear and who played to win no matter what,” Gilray said. “We started the recruiting process very late, after club provincials and nationals this year. She was the last recruit that we signed, and she’ll be an absolute difference-maker.”
Pearson, a hard-hitting left side, helped the South Delta Sun Devils win three straight B.C. AAAA championships (2012 to 2014) and earning second team all-star honours in 2014.
“This is a young lady who was starting not only in CIS, but in Canada West, which is in the toughest conference by far,” Gilray said. “We’re really excited to have her swinging outside for us next year.”
Bauder returns to the Valley after two seasons in St. John’s, Nfld. with the Memorial Sea-Hawks. She was voted to the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) all-rookie team in 2014-15, and as a sophomore in 2015-16, finished second on her squad with 3.28 digs per set.
During her high school days, Bauder earned provincial all-star honours after leading the Langley Fundamental Titans to a silver medal at the 2013 B.C. AA championship. She’s also excelled on the sand, winning a U18 provincial beach volleyball title and finishing third at U18 nationals.
“She’s got great ball control, she’s very experienced, and she knows a lot of the girls on our team from past years,” Gilray said.
Joining the Cascades is a family affair for Funk – she’ll get to play alongside her sister Rachel, a veteran left side. Both Funk siblings will be entering their third years of eligibility.
During her time with the Douglas Royals, Jessica Funk earned PacWest all-rookie honours in 2014-15 and led the conference in aces (0.72 per set) last season.
“A lot of our girls, when she transferred, told me that she was the toughest setter in the league to read where she was going with the ball,” Gilray said. “That’s a great compliment to her.”
Hieltjes was named a Lower Mainland independent school league all-star, and was MVP of the final match. She also picked up the tournament MVP award at the VIU high school girls tourney, and was team MVP at the UBC tourney. Additionally, she had a strong club season, earning MVP honours with the Coquitlam Ducks.
“Hannah, I’d say, will be one of our best all-around athletes,” he predicted. “She’s amazing, she’s fast, she can jump extremely well. I think we’ve really found a diamond in the rough.”
Johnstone is coming off a very strong club campaign, helping her BCO Volleyball Club win gold at the recent U18 provincial championships. She also earned most improved player awards with her high school squad and with Team B.C.
“I was sent a recruiting video from Teagan, and it was probably one of the best recruiting videos I’ve ever seen,” Gilray said. “She’s doing some amazing things as a blocker. She’s raw still – she’s so dynamic that we almost have to rein it in. But when she works in our system and incorporates some of that feedback, she’ll be very strong.”
Matsui will begin her Cascades career as a redshirt – she’s recovering from a knee injury suffered during high school basketball season.
Matsui, who will pursue a bachelor of criminal justice degree at UFV, was named an all-star at AAAA provincials in her Grade 11 and Grade 12 seasons, helping the Riverside Rapids to a pair of podium finishes – silver in 2014, and bronze in 2015. Matsui is a three-time athlete of the year award winner at Riverside Secondary, and also earned all-star accolades as a member of the Coquitlam Ducks club.
For more on the team, visit ufvcascades.ca.