The honours and awards have been piling up for ‘Pack member Iulia Pakhomenko since the end of the season but the latest award is the most important one yet, Pakhomenko has been named the best university female volleyball player in all of Canada as CIS player of the year.
The fourth-year outside hitter was undoubtedly the focus of TRU’s offence all season long and her outstanding play went a long way in helping TRU achieve just the second postseason berth in the program’s history.
“A lot of it comes from her work ethic. She works hard, puts the time in at the gym and I think that breeds a lot of confidence. She’s just all-around – she can pass the ball, her blocking’s improving and she can hit any shot,” said head coach Chad Grimm on what makes Pakhomenko so successful.
Pakhomenko attacks the ball with a power that is unmatched in Canadian university volleyball and every time she elevated above the net to power through a ball good things would happen for the ‘Pack. She led the country in kills, with a whopping 425 which is 63 more than any other player in the nation. Pakhomenko also topped the nation in kills per set, service aces, points per set and points.
“I have never had an award of this magnitude before. I just want to thank my teammates, without them I wouldn’t have got this award,” Pakhomenko said.
Perhaps the most frightening thing for the rest of the country is that Pakhomenko has one year of eligibility left, and Grimm doesn’t think she’s reached her full potential yet.
“I think she’s proved that she’s a dominant player her first three years here. She’s comfortable here now with school and her surroundings, I think it’s only natural that she continues to improve as the comfort level gets there.”
Pakhomenko was also named the Canada West player of the year as well as a first team Canada West all-star.
Members of the men’s volleyball team also received recognition for their play throughout the year, with Brad Gunter, Sam Taylor-Parks and Kyle Behiels all receiving awards.
In what was Gunter’s last year with the ‘Pack, the 2013-14 CIS player of the year went out with a bang. Gunter was named both a Canada West and CIS first team all-star.
“He’s got an arm on him so the velocity that comes off his shoulder is exceptional. He’s worked hard over his career, he’s put 5 or 6 inches on his vertical,” said head coach Pat Hennelly about Gunter.
Earlier this season Gunter became the country’s all-time leader in kills and points.
In a year that saw a lot of younger players getting playing time for the ‘Pack it was Taylor-Parks and Behiels, both middles, that made the biggest impact. They were both recognized for their efforts with a spot on the Canada West all-rookie team.
“It’s very nice for me as a coach to know that at the hardest position to recruit we have two solid guys. I’m really looking forward to having a front row view of watching these guys develop over the next few years,” Hennelly said.