Hope Schneider received a huge shock shortly after joining the University of Winnipeg Wesmen women’s volleyball team this fall.
Schneider, a Crocus Plains high school graduate, went to Winnipeg expecting to ease into the university ranks. Instead, she was thrust into starting for the team at setter after Brittany Habing suddenly decided the leave the Wesmen.
It was the last thing the 5-foot-7, first-year Brandonite expected to happen, but she’s trying to make the best of the situation.
"It was definitely a huge shocker," she said. "From there, our team said we need to move on and carry on and believe and do what we can from there. … It’s been a lot, but my team and my coach have helped me through this. It’s a huge change."
Schneider, who helped the Plainsmen finish second at last year’s provincial AAAA varsity girls’ high school volleyball championship, has started nine of the Wesmen’s first 10 matches of the Canada West season. She missed Thursday’s contest against the host Brandon Bobcats because of the flu. So far this season, she’s posted eight kills, two aces, 43 digs, 10 blocks and is averaging 6.57 assists per set.
Schneider admitted it has been a huge adjustment to start at the CIS level, and right now she’s just focused on working on her consistency and being efficient.
While she appreciates the support from her coaches and teammates, Schneider has also looked to her brother, Dustin, for some advice.
"I’ve had a couple days where I needed some reassurance and I’ve called him up and he’s given me that," said Schneider, whose brother was an All-Canadian setter at the U of W before joining Canada’s national senior men’s squad. "Just being under the pressure I am, he’s explained to me how to go about it and how to treat it and move on from there."
While Schneider feels like she’s been thrown to the wolves, Zoe Pellerin feels just the opposite.
Pellerin, a first-year right side who also graduated from Crocus Plains in June, joined the Wesmen this season, but has not seen any court time in conference play.
The 6-foot-1 Brandonite is fine with that as she knows she has to develop a lot to play at the level of the team’s two veteran players in their fourth year of eligibility.
Pellerin is working on getting stronger physically and mentally and hopes all that effort will eventually pay off.
"I’m just learning and getting adjusted to the ropes and the roles of each and every player," she said. "I’m totally fine with that. … It’s definitely a big step going from high school to the university level. For me, I have a lot of growing to do to get to where the fourth-years are at."
The Wesmen, who also have first-year left side Kasey Bennell from MacGregor on their roster, are a very young team, with 11 of their 13 players in their first or second years of eligibility. That inexperience is part of the reason Winnipeg has a 3-7 record, but Schneider has hope for the future.
Schneider sees a team that will grow together over the next few years, and she believes they will eventually be able to challenge for a conference and national title.
"The starters on the court and the two (fourth-year) veterans will be back next year, so that’s just another growing moment for us as a team to grow together and learn and move on with each other," she said.