March 31st, 2020

An ace of a season


By Woodard, Dale on March 20, 2020.

Dale Woodard

Lethbridge Herald

sports@lethbridgeherald.com

So how was Amaya Perry’s first season of Canada West volleyball?

Judging by the hardware she attained, the jaw-dropping numbers she posted and a bit history made as a result, just fine.

The outside hitter and graduate from Catholic Central High School wrapped up her first season with the UBCO Okanagan Heat women’s volleyball team with the Canada West Rookie of the Year award, making Perry the first Heat athlete in program history to win the Canada West’s award for first-year players.

The honours didn’t stop there for Perry, who also attended R.I. Baker Middle School and Kate Andrews High School. She also received the Mark Tennant Award as the U SPORTS Rookie of the Year, another first for the Heat.

“It was a huge honour for me and my whole team,” said Perry, who helped her team to a 7-17 record last season and was named to the Canada West All-Rookie team. “I think it showed how hard we were working. At the start of the season I definitely wasn’t where I finished and that was a lot of the work I put in, but also my teammates and my coaches. So I think for me and my entire team it’s awesome.”

Her immediate impact upon arriving at UBCO and the record-breaking numbers that followed set Perry up for the award.

Starting every match for the Heat at the outside, the product of Coaldale dished out 59 aces to set a UBCO season record. Those 59 aces were also fourth-highest in the conference all-time.

When she wasn’t dominating the service line, Perry hammered 227 kills, another school record for freshmen and second on the Heat. It was also tops in the country for a first-year player.

Perry added 189 digs and 35 blocks. Her 304.5 points scored was second-most on the Heat team.

As she posted those numbers, her confidence grew.

“What really changed is at the beginning of the season I wasn’t the main option on offense,” said Perry. “But by the end of the season I was. We had a few injuries and I was high up on the go-to offence and hitters list. But I was lucky enough to start the whole season.”

Perry posted a career-high 19 kills in a match against MacEwan Feb. 1 and on five different occasions recorded a double-double in kills and digs.

On Nov. 1 against Manitoba Perry set a career-high of six aces. She recorded five aces in a match on four separate occasions and closed out the season strong with four on both nights against Calgary in the season’s closing weekend.

“There were a few different games,” said Perry of the standout matches. “I think in one of the games I got 18 or 19 kills in the whole match. I think that’s when I realized that I do belong here and I can be playing at this level consistently, or more consistently than I have been. I think that game just changed the level of play for me.”

As she heads back for her second year in Kelowna, Perry will be joined by her older sister, Rayn, who played setter with the University of Toronto Varsity Blues for two seasons.

“I think she’s pretty proud,” said Perry, of her sister, who will turn 21 this year. “She is, for sure, one of my biggest cheerleaders. Obviously, my parents are (also) super proud of me.”

Making the latest development even more exciting is the siblings are used to being on the same court.

“We’ve played together every year up until she graduated high school,” said Perry. “So we played club teams together and the school teams together. Now we will be playing together next year.

“I’m super excited. I absolutely love playing with her.”

Perry also returns to a young Heat team looking to make the next step this coming season.

Joining her on this year’s team is fellow Canada West All-Rookie Abi Dueck. They will be joined by Jade Bussard and Sydney Grills, both members of the 2018-19 Canada West all-rookie squad.

“We’re only losing one starter, a fifth-year, our libero,” said Perry. “It’s a big position, but we have a relatively young team, which I think adds to the excitement level. We didn’t do badly this year, but I think it’s really good that we have such a young team. So I think that’s part of the excitement. We get this same team still working toward the same goal.

“I’m so excited. I’m ready to go and I want my team to do awesome. Everyone is so excited for next year and I’m going to work my butt off this summer training.”

It’s a lot of weight stuff, just keeping your body in shape for such a long season,” said Perry. “You have to keep up the training and conditioning so your body can last. So it will be a lot of that.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown a bit of a wrinkle into Perry and her teammates’ off-season plans, but that won’t affect her preparations.

“Usually we would be doing off-season practices still, which we are not able to do, but we’ll see what happens with that,” said Perry. “But there will still be lots of staying in shape and conditioning and workouts.

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