Donata Huebert plays the ball during a Bobcats' practice at the BU Healthy Living Centre on Thursday. (BRUCE BUMSTEAD/BRANDON SUN)
For the last two seasons, Brandon University Bobcats head coach Lee Carter felt something was missing from his women’s volleyball team that caused it to fall short of the Canada West playoffs.
This year, Carter thinks he’s found that missing piece in libero Donata Huebert. The 24-year-old German import returns to Brandon for the first time since she was named the CIS libero of the year in the 2010-11 season. She played professional volleyball for each of the last two years in France.
While it may seem strange for some people to back to school after making money playing professionally, Huebert admits she always planned to come back to the Wheat City.
"It was nice to make some money with what I love to do, but I don’t do it for the money," she said before a training camp practice at the Healthy Living Centre on Thursday. "I do it because I like it and because I want to have fun with it. If I can study at a really good level too, it’s even better.
"… I’m not a person who can just play volleyball and be happy with it. I always need something for my brain and I was always looking forward to coming back and finishing my studies and going from there."
Libero has been a problem position for the Bobcats since Huebert left. Lindsay McLaughlin took over the position two years ago until she sustained a season-ending injury during the Christmas break leading to a revolving door of players at the position. Last season BU recruited Kendra Bommersbach from Winnipeg to start at libero. While she played well for a first-year player, she wasn’t near the standard that Carter saw with Huebert.
Even though the Bobcats won’t take the court in conference play for a month, Huebert has already made her mark on the team.
"She’s just quietly going about her business and everybody’s watching how smooth she moves and she’s in the weight room training," Carter said. "She’s already got (new recruit) Regan Dahl in the weight room with her once, she’s already got Jodie (Baker) to go for a jog with her. She’s doing all the right things that you would expect in a leader and one of the better, older players would do."
Although the 5-foot-9 physical education student has stepped into a leadership role, she doesn’t want to put too much pressure on herself. While she wants to be a role model for the team’s younger players, Huebert admits that she also has a lot to learn and knows she can’t be an example for everything for the rest of the Bobcat squad.
She also doesn’t like thinking about her libero of the year award as that was three years ago. Huebert isn’t sure if she’ll get her second one this year as she isn’t aware of how the play of liberos has improved since then.
However, she does hope to play at a higher level than she was at the last time she wore Bobcats blue. Huebert also wants to lead Brandon back into the playoffs and to its first appearance at nationals this season.
"I want to go to nationals," she said. "I want to go to nationals for Kellie (Baker) because she’s in her last year. That’s the main goal that I want to go to nationals and see what we can do there. We haven’t done it with the program yet, so that’s a big thing."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition September 6, 2013