Avery Maginel serves in the Top 8 Debate. (CHRIS JASTER/BRANDON SUN)
If the Vincent Massey Vikings varsity girls’ volleyball team is going to have any success this season, it’s going to have to rely on its players in Grade 11.
This season, the Vikings feature five players in Grade 12 and seven in Grade 11, which has increased the expectations on the younger group. Some of them, like Avery Maginel, are ready to step up to the challenge.
The 5-foot-10 Brandonite has pretty much secured a spot in Massey’s starting lineup, but the issue head coach Greg Beckwith faces is where to put her. She’s currently at middle, although Beckwith didn’t libero her off much when she rotated to the back row at the Top 8 Debate tournament last weekend at Crocus Plains, but where she plays on the court could change.
"Moving forward she may find herself playing a different position, whether it’s right side or left side, but the needs of our team right now is that she remains in the middle," said Beckwith, whose team is ranked seventh in the province. "So we’ll continue to train her at both left side and at the corners and we’ll make a decision as the season goes on whether we leave her in the middle or not."
Maginel has more than just the athletic ability to play anywhere on the court. She also has the confidence, a lot of which she gained during the summer.
On the advice of Beckwith, Maginel tried out for the provincial teams that competed at the Western Elite Volleyball Challenge in Regina. Not only did she make the team, Maginel started for Manitoba’s 16-and-under squad and helped it finish fourth.
Beckwith has noticed vast improvements in Maginel’s serve receive, passing and blocking since the summer, but Maginel said she just feels more comfortable on the court.
"I think I did gain a lot of confidence and I became more emotionally stable because of that time on the court," said Maginel, who also plays soccer and basketball at Massey. "It was a good experience. I gained a lot more experience than I would have if I had not been playing volleyball this summer."
Maginel has set a simple goal for herself this season to just get better after every match, which is the same team goal Beckwith has for his squad.
However, Maginel wants to keep getting better over the next two years so that she has an opportunity to play volleyball in the CIS after she graduates. It looks like she might have a chance to make her dream a reality as Beckwith has already fielded a couple inquiries from university coaches about her.
Beckwith admits it’s hard to judge right now if she’ll be able to play at that level, but he thinks Maginel will have a good chance if she maintains a strong work ethic.
"It’s too soon to guess at her future, but if she continues to work hard and continues to improve at the level she’s improving at, she’ll definitely go on to play post-secondary," he said.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition September 18, 2013