Humber goes up against history

NANAIMO, B.C. – Freelton’s Kris Dowling and her Humber Hawks women’s volleyball teammates can make history in a couple of ways this weekend.

The five-time defending Ontario Colleges Athletic Association champions have never won a medal at nationals. In fact, no OCAA team has ever won a national championship in 34 years of competition.

The 2012 Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association Women’s Volleyball National Championship begins Thursday (March 8) at Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo, B.C.

OCAA teams have not faired well at the CCAA tournament, with only one medal since 1995. Bronze was awarded to the Cambrian Golden Shield in 2005.

Humber hopes to change this negative history on the strength of OCAA player of the year and CCAA All-Canadian Kelly Nyhof. The third-year middle out of Georgetown was among the OCAA regular season leaders averaging 4.3 points and 3.08 kills per set. The West region first-team all-star totaled 213 points, 154 kills, 36 blocks and 23 aces for a Humber team that went undefeated with an 18-0 record.

She continued her strong presence at the OCAA championship tournament. In three matches, Nyhof totaled 44 points on 33 kills, 10 blocks and one ace en route to being named tournament MVP. When combined with its regular season record, Humber has now won 21 straight matches, losing only seven sets during this span.

Humber has other all-star players to contend with as well. Nina Carino (Scarborough) and Teresa George (Newtonville) were both named OCAA tournament all-stars as well as regular season first-team all-stars. Carino, a fourth-year setter, led the Hawks with 28 service aces during the regular season. George, a fifth-year libero, led Humber with 128 digs.

First-year left side Deborah Mitchell (Scarborough) was also a tournament all-star. And not to be forgotten, fifth-year left side Dowling was a West region second-team all-star during the regular season.

Humber is seeded No. 4 at this year’s nationals. Last year the Hawks finished in sixth place at the CCAA tournament.

Humber opens the CCAA tournament on Thursday at 6 p.m. PT against the PACWEST silver medalist UFV Cascades out of Abbotsford, B.C.