Jamie Campbell plays for the Tri-Star Storm and Neelin Spartans. (FILE PHOTO)
It’s been less than a week since the high school volleyball season came to an end, and the Brandon University Bobcats women’s volleyball team has already landed its first new recruit.
Jamie Campbell, a libero with the Neelin Spartans team that fell in five sets to the MBCI Hawks in the provincial AAAA varsity girls’ high school volleyball championship on Monday, has decided to stay home and committed to play with the Bobcats next season.
It wasn’t a hard decision to make for the 5-foot-6 libero, who will receive a scholarship, as she liked the opportunity to join a solid team that has players she knows on it and to have the chance to stay in the Wheat City.
"Just the fact that I’m staying home and I already know some people here, it’s more comforting coming in," said Campbell, who switched from being an outside hitter to libero late in her Grade 10 season. "… I know (second-year setter) Mary Thomson because I played with her sister for a few years (with Neelin). I watch them and everything."
Campbell, 17, has had a lot of success. She has been part of the Spartans squad for the last four years, a team that won the AAAA title in 2012 and finished second in this year’s provincials. The team also went undefeated in the junior varsity ranks in 2011 until the provincial final, which Neelin lost to MBCI.
The Spartans are a talented group with at least four of their starters — Campbell, outside hitter Kristine Ward, middle Alison Quiring and setter Amy Gordon — expected to commit to universities for volleyball, while Paige Thomson is leaning towards playing basketball in university.
Bobcats head coach Lee Carter is glad to land at least one player from Neelin and hopes to recruit more locals this year.
"There’s a lot of really good people in western Manitoba and because they’re so talented they get a lot of offers and other things," Carter said. "We’re excited that Jamie is the first one out of that group that’s choosing to come here. She’s a super-intelligent kid and we’re positive she’ll do a good job for us in the next five years."
Spartans head coach Kevin Neufeld, who’s a consultant for Carter, has been impressed with Campbell’s play the last two years and believes she’s the best high school-aged libero in Manitoba right now, which makes her commitment to Brandon a big deal for the Bobcats.
"I think she’s just very disciplined and has trained real hard to be that kind of next-level kid," Neufeld said. "She’s been very excited to play the libero position and I think that’s given her a chance to do that."
Brandon is solid at libero with German import Donata Huebert taking over the role this season after spending the last two years in Europe and Brandonite Gillian Leech backing her up. Huebert was named the CIS libero of the year in 2010-11, however the team struggled and missed the Canada West playoffs during both seasons in her absence.
The Bobcats feel Huebert and Leech give them real strength at libero, and Campbell is looking forward to learning as much as she can from them before she eventually steps into the starting role.
"I think it would be a great opportunity to play under Donata and to learn from her," Campbell said.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition December 7, 2013