New Zealanders Vaovai Aiono and Margaret Lafaele will finally join the Brandon University Bobcats women’s volleyball team this week.
After weeks of delays, the two Kiwi imports have secured student visas and are scheduled to make the long trek to the Wheat City in the next few days.
Bobcats head coach Lee Carter is happy to finally have his prize recruits on the way.
“I feel relieved is a good word,” Carter said. “There was a lot of work put into getting them here and then there was the delay in the visas and that kind of put a hold on it and I was really scared it was going to take too long because they had said it would take possibly up to eight weeks with the rotating strikes and everything in immigration. So when they contacted me yesterday and said they got (the visas), I was the happiest guy around.”
The New Zealand natives will join German star Donata Huebert — a former CIS libero of the year — to give the Bobcats three import players this season. Both Aiono, 20, and Lafaele, 23, have been members of the New Zealand national team program and could make an immediate impact in the Bobcats’ lineup as left side players.
“They are two of the top players in New Zealand in their ladies division that they play in, but we won’t know exactly where they fit in until they are here practising side-by-side,” Carter said. “But they are both very strong and athletic and we are hoping that they will contribute fast.”
Aiono will actually return overseas later this month for a one-week stint with the New Zealand national team as it competes in the Asian championship, a qualifying tournament for the 2014 worlds.
While Lafaele could be in the lineup, Aiono will miss the Bobcats’ pre-season debut when they compete from Sept. 26-28 in the University of Winnipeg’s Unruh Realty Invitational against the Winnipeg Wesmen, Manitoba Bisons, McMaster Marauders and Toronto Varsity Blues.
BOBCAT BITS: The BU men’s volleyball team will take on the Bobcats alumni on Saturday at the Healthy Living Centre at 7:30 p.m. Joel Small, Andrew Korol and Paul Robidoux are among the former Bobcat standouts set to take part in the match ... The Bobcats women’s basketball team will play a scrimmage against North Dakota’s University of Mary Marauders on Sunday at BU’s HLC at 5 p.m. ... BU’s men’s basketball team will continue pre-season action on Oct. 4-5 against Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ont.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition September 17, 2013