One successful volleyball season continues to roll into the next for Lisa Barclay.
After winning the national championship with the UBC Thunderbirds in March when she was named the tournament’s MVP, the 20-year-old Brandonite made the national women’s A volleyball team. In July, she travelled with the squad to Mexico, where they finished eighth at the Pan Am Cup.
Barclay felt she learned a lot during her time with the national team and she’s putting that experience to use in the Canada West conference season. The 6-foot-2 outside hitter is currently fourth in the conference with 3.51 kills per set and third in the conference with 4.10 points per set.
"The summer was really great to play with some of the best players in the world," Barclay said via telephone from B.C. "Just practising all summer, I got a bit more confidence in myself, too. So coming back this year, I think it really changed and helped me so far."
Part of the reason for Barclay having such a successful season is the balanced UBC attack. The Thunderbirds can score from anywhere on the court, which means opposing defences can’t focus on taking Barclay or anyone else out of the match. That’s also why the squad has posted an impressive 11-1 record through the first semester and is the top-ranked team in Canada.
Despite all of that, Barclay is surprised her statistics are that good this year.
"It’s crazy to think that (I have the fourth-most kills)," she said. "So many other teams have strong players as well and all those players are up there. It’s really great."
While the first half of the season has been special for Barclay statistically, the second half will have much more emotional value.
The third-year kinesiology student hasn’t played a CIS match in Brandon since leaving the Wheat City for the West Coast. As soon as Barclay looked at the Thunderbirds schedule this year and saw they were coming to Brandon, she circled the date on her calendar. She’s been counting down the days since then and is anxious to play at BU’s new Healthy Living Centre on Feb. 1 and 2, against one of her best friends, Bobcats middle Meaghan Robertson.
"I can’t wait," she said. "It’s going to be my first time playing in Brandon, too, since I left, so playing in the new gym is going to be really exciting."
Barclay will remain in B.C. for another week before coming home for the holidays. She doesn’t have long, however, before she has to go back to university to prepare for the second half of the season.
She has big plans after she returns to B.C., as Barclay would like to add a second-straight national championship to her trophy collection.
"Another title would be amazing," she said. "I think right now we’re just trying to focus on the steps, so getting through the regular season and quarter-finals and final four and all that. I’m definitely hoping for another national title."