Brandon’s Lisa Barclay leads the country in kills. (FILE PHOTO)
If there was any doubt before, Brandonite Lisa Barclay has certainly answered the question of whether she could step up to carry a team on her back.
This season has been the 21-year-old Crocus Plains graduate’s first with the UBC Thunderbirds in which she has not had Shanice Marcelle also on the outside to balance out UBC’s attack, but Barclay hasn’t let that bother her. Without Marcelle, a national team player who graduated last year, Barclay has stepped up and is leading the country in kills (4.30 per set) and the conference in points (5.03 per set) through the first semester, even though her mind set is a little different.
"I think it’s just a little more stressful when I’m not performing as well as I’d like to, but the whole team is really good about support and Doug (Reimer, UBC’s head coach) is really good in those times, too," said Barclay, a 6-foot-2 left side who has received 31.4 per cent of her team’s sets so far this season. "It’s been really good."
Barclay’s success shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. She was named the most valuable player and tournament all-star in the last two Canadian Interuniversity Sport championships and she was a first-team all-Canadian last season.
She also spent the summer with the women’s national volleyball team. Barclay posted 34 kills, 43 digs and two aces in five matches at the World University Games, helping Canada place sixth in the 15-team event. She also got significant playing time in the NORCECA Pan American Cup and started all but one set in the NORCECA continental championship, in which Canada placed fourth, before returning to the six-time defending national champion T-birds.
Barclay feels her summer with the national team helped her improve her game, but she believes that UBC’s 12-0 start to the Canada West conference season has a lot more to do with playing on a veteran squad.
"I think it’s just our experience. We never give up," said Barclay, whose team has dropped only eight sets this season, but has been taken to five sets by Manitoba, Winnipeg and Regina. "There’s been lots of games this season so far. When we played U of W we went to five sets and when we played Regina too there were lots of close games, but we were able to push through at the end, which I think is our experience, which has really helped us."
After spending the majority of this year focused on volleyball, Barclay spent most of her Christmas break in Brandon relaxing and trying to get her mind off the sport. She returns to Vancouver on Sunday for exhibition matches and to prepare for the second half of the season.
The Thunderbirds have four tough matches right off the hop as they visit the sixth-ranked UBCO Heat (10-2) to begin the second half of the season before hosting the second-ranked Brandon Bobcats (9-3) the following weekend.
Barclay has been impressed with the play of her hometown Bobcats and can’t wait to battle BU, which includes one of her good friends in middle Meaghan Robertson.
"It’s going to be really fun," Barclay said. "They’ve had a great start to the season. It will be really fun to play them in Vancouver. I wish we were coming back (to Brandon), but it will be nice for them to come out."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition December 28, 2013