It may be the off-season, but the Mohawk women’s volleyball team has begun preparations for the start of the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association season in the fall.
Mountaineers‘ head coach Andrew Nicholson has recruited three new players, including 5-8 Libero/Setter Kaitlyn Mattiozzi from Hamilton’s Cathedral High School; 6-0 Middle Brianna Downie of West Elgin Secondary School in West Lorne; and 5-8 Left Side Jasmine Zanussi from St. Thomas Aquinas Secondary School in Oakville.
Mohawk tried to acquire Mattiozzi last year, but the 2011 Cathedral Athlete of the Year and two-time Gaels’ Volleyball MVP, who had a few university varsity offers last year, elected to attend Hamilton’s McMaster University. While she did not play at a competitive level last season, Nicholson feels Mattiozzi will shore up two positions on the floor and be dominant in the back court.
“It’s definitely exciting to play in my home town,” said Mattiozzi. “When I began practising with Mohawk’s team during the winter I began to check out the games and was impressed by the solid level of play and the aggression of their offence makes me extremely excited to join the team on the court.
“Playing the positions that are needed for the team this upcoming year is definitely appealing as it makes me feel that I can really contribute to the team in my first year and truly make an impact.”
Zanussi, the 2010 Aquinas Rookie of the Year and MVP from 2010 to 2013, is a smart player, with above average power, who can score points in various ways. Nicholson feels she should be able to compete for a starting position right away.
As well as playing high school volleyball, Zanussi benefited from three years at club level, seeing lots of court time and in various positions.
“My first year playing I was a Left Side,” said Zanussi. “The beginning of the second year I continued to play Left Side, but was then asked to play Right Side because we needed a better block. Finally, in my third year I was my team’s setter. Having played all of these positions gives me a better overall knowledge of the game, and how crucial each position can be.”
Besides playing at the high school level, Downie has seen considerable action in the Ontario Volleyball Association, playing for six years with the West Elgin Warriors and one season with the Sarnia Twin Bridges.
Nicholson feels she will bring much needed physical size and strength to the front court.
“I am a strong hitter and blocker in the middle position and have very successful serves,” said Downie. “I have attended volleyball clinics and games at Fanshawe College and love the strong level of (OCAA) play.
“I had a great tour of the campus and feel it will be a nice transition from my small high school in West Lorne. Downie said her first impression of Mohawk, its staff and facilities were first rate. “I am excited to be living in residence and enjoying the many activities available in the community.”