For the last two years, Brandonite Lisa Barclay has been the best player at the Canadian Interuniversity Sport women’s volleyball championship tournament.
Now the 21-year-old Crocus Plains graduate can say she’s the best university women’s volleyball player in Canada. Barclay received the Mary Lyons Award for player of the year at the CIS awards banquet in Regina on Thursday, and she couldn’t have been happier to receive the honour.
"It means a lot. It’s really an amazing honour, and I can’t believe it," the fourth-year left side said by phone from Regina. "I never really thought about it (during the season). I just focused on the team doing well and we did well toward the end."
Barclay, who was also named a first-team all-Canadian, had a spectacular season with the UBC Thunderbirds.
The 6-foot-2 left side became the go-to hitter for the Thunderbirds, receiving 31.3 per cent of their sets. That allowed her to lead the CIS with 4.26 kills per set and 4.99 points per set. Barclay’s points per game mark was the second-highest in Canada West since it began keeping track of the stat in the 2002-03 season, while her 404.5 total points is the most ever recorded in a campaign.
Barclay, who has been on the national team for each of the past two summers, was sixth in the conference this season with 0.37 aces per set and her 227 digs were second on UBC behind libero Briana Liau Kent’s 253.
All that helped the Thunderbirds finish first in the Canada West regular season with a 20-2 mark and host the final four, where she dominated again.
Barclay had 28 kills and a dazzling .449 hitting percentage as UBC won the semifinal in four sets over the UBC Okanagan Heat. She had a match-high 13 kills the next day as the Thunderbirds swept the Manitoba Bisons in the conference final.
Barclay, however, said her season wouldn’t have been possible without her teammates.
"It was just a really special group of girls and our team is so deep that we go to lots of other players too, and it opens up seams and gives everyone a chance," she said.
This is the sixth straight year a UBC player has been named CIS women’s volleyball player of the year, with Barclay following in the steps of Shanice Marcelle (2013, 2011), Kyla Richey (2012) and Liz Cordonier (2010).
While Barclay appreciates the honours she received on Thursday, she will have to put them out of her mind today as the Thunderbirds begin their quest for a seventh consecutive CIS championship. She said she’s already zeroed in on what she has to do for the Thunderbirds, who have been ranked No.1 in the country all season and are the top seed in the tournament, as they take on the host University of Regina Cougars in the quarter-finals at 6 p.m.
"I’m already focused on Regina. I’m ready to play," she said. "It’s always great to get here. It takes a lot of work to get here and we’ll try to play our game. We definitely earned it and we’ll show how we can play."