Cougars chase higher Peake with Binscarth attacker
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A few months of playing for Kevin Neufeld was enough for Kylee Peake to sign up for two more years.
The Binscarth product, who’s leading the Cougars Volleyball Club team into 18-and-under provincials as the No. 2 seed today, committed to the Assiniboine Community College women’s program for the 2023-24 Manitoba Colleges Athletic Conference season.
“I was getting sad about this season ending,” Peake said, “but then I remembered I have all of the next two years to play college volleyball so I’m super excited.”
Peake watched her older sisters grow up in volleyball and quickly realized she loved it too. She enjoys the fast pace and certainly contributes to the speed as a five-foot-nine outside hitter.
Neufeld is high on the Major Pratt Trojan and 2022 Volleyball Manitoba graduating all-star.
“She’s one of those real good jumpers. She’s got a great arm and can play all six rotations,” Neufeld said. “Those people are hard to find. She’ll probably go on and play U Sports after a year or two but we’ll be happy to have her while she’s here.”
Peake started with Russell Club Volleyball in 13U and 14U, then joined Steve Densmore’s Club West the following season. She missed her 16U year due to COVID-19 and played up with Club West’s 18U squad last season.
Peake feels her defence has improved a ton over the winter with the Cougars club. She wants to improve her vertical before the MCAC season but feels confident in her ability to play at the next level. She credits some of that to Neufeld as well.
“I think he’s a very encouraging coach and he has a lot of technical things he can teach you. He’s helped me a lot with my arm swing and defence and stuff,” Peake said.
“He kept me confident and he’s never put me down or anything, he’s always lifted me up.”
Peake is part of a stacked rookie class including Cougars teammates Ava Plamondon and Ryan DeGroot, along with their Vincent Massey Vikings’ libero Lexi Brown.
Virden’s Jordyn Bradbury and Grandview’s Jorja Cords committed earlier this year and Winnipeg middle blocker Kiera Virgo’s signing was announced on Thursday.
Neufeld said only three players are returning, team MVP Elle Snyder and setters Brooke Schoonbaert and Brie Mulligan.
That brings the team makeup to three setters, one libero, five outside hitters and one middle.
He attended Saskatchewan’s 18U provincials last weekend and has hopefully secured a few more middles. No amount of commitments will stop his “ongoing challenge” of recruiting players into one- or two-year programs as he strives to send Assiniboine to a Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association championship.
“The bar is higher,” Neufeld said. “Where there was a time when people who wanted to play could play, now we’re at a standard and an expectation where the athleticism and skill set is a little higher than that. Now we’re a little more particular in who we’re recruiting.
“I would like to be able to get all those top Westman-area kids who aren’t physical or athletic enough to play U Sports … that provides a good option or good outlook for those kids.
“The fact that they played club for me now and know what we want or expect, moving forward, that makes coaching a lot simpler.”
» Twitter: @thomasmfriesen