After spending so much of her club volleyball career playing in Brandon and being a part of the Neelin Spartans varsity girls’ volleyball team this season, Tori Studler has decided to stay home to attend the University of Manitoba next season.
The 17-year-old moved to Brandon from Grosse Isle and billeted at Donna and Kelly Hamm’s place for the high school volleyball season, helping the Spartans reach the provincial AAAA high school championship match. After moving back home early in the second semester, Studler decided she wanted to stay in Grosse Isle while she’s in university and has verbally committed to join the Bisons, who won the CIS national championship last week.
"I know the girls from earlier and I like every single one of them and they’re all so great and welcoming," said Studler, who plans to officially sign her letter of intent with the U of M this weekend and will join the team in the fall.
"One of the girls on the team is Lexi Janovcik, who played Brandon club with me last year and this is the first year we haven’t played club together. She committed to U of M as well, and it just worked out that her and I both feel most comfortable at U of M. It feels good to have someone else who is one of my best friends go to the team too and we go through it together and do all that."
Janovcik is from Winnipeg and played her high school volleyball with the MBCI Hawks, who beat the Spartans in five sets in the provincial final.
Studler, a 6-foot-0 outside hitter, plans to study nursing at the U of M. Since she’s not taking a full course load in her first year at university, Studler hopes to be on the Bisons active roster instead of redshirting her first season.
Her ultimate goal is to help the Bisons remain as one of the top teams in the country and improve enough personally to make the national team. She believes being a part of the defending CIS champions will help her achieve that goal.
"It is awesome, and they should be really good next year," she said. "It’s nice to follow in their footsteps and get that training in and follow along and practise with them and have a little taste of what it’s like to be on a team that’s that good."
Studler is the sixth member of the Spartans to commit to play in the CIS next season, joining libero Jamie Campbell (Brandon Bobcats), setter Amy Gordon (Mount Royal Cougars), middle Alison Quiring (Trinity Western Spartans), outside hitter Kristine Ward (Regina Cougars) and Paige Thomson (Victoria Vikes basketball).
Studler is still commuting from Grosse Isle to play club volleyball with her Spartan teammates this spring. She’s looking forward to having a few more months with some of her best friends before they are forced to face each other in the Canada West conference for the next five years.
"I love every single girl on that team and I wouldn’t have changed my team at all, so I’m glad to make the commute to play with those girls," she said. "They’re all awesome and I’ve learned a lot from them and I’ll continue to learn a lot from them. I enjoy them. … That should be a good experience (in the CIS), and I’m excited for it."