Brandonite Lisa Barclay of UBC prepares to serve Friday night at BU’s HLC. (COLIN CORNEAU/BRANDON SUN)
This weekend has been a long time coming for Lisa Barclay.
Since graduating from Crocus Plains high school, the 20-year-old Brandonite did not have an opportunity to play another volleyball match in her hometown until last night. She elected to head west to join the UBC Thunderbirds after high school, but the Canada West women’s volleyball schedule didn’t have them travelling to Brandon during her first two seasons in the conference.
As soon as the third-year left side hitter saw that this season’s schedule had a visit to Brandon on it, she circled the dates and started counting down the weekends until she could play in front of family and friends again. She had her first chance on Friday night at BU’s Healthy Living Centre — and will again today at 5 p.m. — but admitted it was very different to be in Brandon again.
"I kind of feel like a visitor being with the team, but I got to go home for a day, which felt really nice. It was really good," said Barclay, whose only other trips home have come during Christmas breaks and weekend breaks during her summer training with the national team. "… It means a lot (to have family and friends come out). I was talking to one of my friends and he just said ‘I haven’t seen you play in so long.’ ... I’m happy so many are coming out to support me."
While the 6-foot-2 Barclay hasn’t been in Brandon much since leaving for university, she has had a lot of success in the last two years. She was named the most valuable player at last year’s Canadian Interuniversity Sport women’s volleyball championship, which the Thunderbirds won. She also cracked the national women’s senior ‘A’ volleyball team last summer, after playing on the ‘B’ squad the previous year.
She has stepped up again this university season and, heading into last night’s match, led UBC and was third in Canada West with an average of 3.40 kills per set. Her efforts have helped the top-ranked T-Birds to an 18-1 record.
Barclay is surprised to see herself so high on the stat sheets, and admitted this year has been a bit different from her first two seasons.
"It was quite a bit different this year just because I was one of the older players in my position, which was different from last year," she said. "I definitely had to step up a little more quickly. On the national team, I was one of the younger ones, but it helped me with my confidence, too."
Barclay is hoping UBC can repeat as national champions again this season and would like to crack the national A team again this spring. However, she knows neither goal will be easy to accomplish, especially trying to make the top national squad.
"(It will) definitely take something special," she said. "A couple players took last season off just to get back from injury or just have a bit of a rest. Definitely going to be tough, but that’s why I love it. It will be good."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition February 2, 2013