VANCOUVER, B.C. (U SPORTS) – Gabrielle Attieh of the Fraser Valley Cascades has been named the most valuable player of the year in U SPORTS women’s volleyball. The announcement was made on Thursday night at the All-Canadian Awards Reception at the Sheraton Wall Centre in Vancouver, the host city of the 2023 U SPORTS Women’s Volleyball Championship, presented by Mikasa.
Other major award winners include Raya Surinx of Manitoba, who won the Rookie of the Year; Christina Stratford of McMaster, who won the Student-Athlete Community Service Award; and UQAM’s Claude Tremblay, who won Coach of the Year.
The 2023 U SPORTS Women’s Volleyball Championship, presented by Mikasa, gets underway on Friday at the War Memorial Gym in Vancouver, and play continues through to the gold medal game, which is set for 4:30 p.m. (Pacific Time) on Sunday. All 11 games of the tournament can be viewed on CBC Sports digital platforms (English) and at usports.ca (French).
Most valuable player: Gabrielle Attieh, Fraser Valley
Gabrielle Attieh led the nation with 404 kills and 458.5 points during the 2022-23 regular season while becoming just the fifth player in Canada West history to reach the 400-kill mark in a single season. She led Canada West in kills per set with 4.34 and points per set with 4.9 while also showing her defensive prowess by finishing seventh in the conference with 292 digs.
Attieh came to a young Cascades’ program with three years of previous U SPORTS volleyball experience as a middle but quickly established herself as one of the nation’s premier players on the left side this season. She notched at least 20 kills on seven occasions during the regular season, including a season-high 22 kills in four matches.
“She brings a massive amount of leadership to our team, – and wisdom and experience – I think that her presence in the USPORTS league makes our league, and all of our teams stronger,” said Janelle Rozema, Head Coach of women’s volleyball at UFV.
Over her Canada West career, Attieh has amassed an impressive 901 kills, 1117.5 points, and 112 aces.
Hailing from Surrey, BC, the fourth-year player started all 24 regular season matches for the UFV Cascades in 2022-23, earning U SPORTS Athlete of the Week twice and Canada West Player of the Week once. After joining the UFV program in 2022-23 for their second season of U SPORTS competition, Attieh became the first UFV volleyball player to be named Canada West Player of the year.
Other nominees: Lucy Glen-Carter (Dalhousie), Sabrina Mayer (UQAM), Janelle Albert (Western)
Rookie of the Year: Raya Surinx, Manitoba
Rays Surinx was third in points per set in Canada West in her rookie year with 4.19, while also leading her Bisons in kills, with 283, and service aces, with 44. Starting in every game, Surinx had over 20 kills six times this season, including a career-high 23 against UBC, which helped Manitoba upset the T-Birds 2-0 in the conference quarterfinals.
"I'm super proud, honestly, because it's super hard to do, and she does it with such grace and quiet confidence," noted veteran setter Katreena Bentley of Surinx's seamless transition into the starting lineup. "She's the least egotistical person that I've ever met, even though she's one of the best volleyball players I've ever seen."
“Raya has had an outstanding rookie season. She’s been incredibly consistent from the start of the season right through to the playoffs. Aside from the stat sheet, Raya is just a great, hard-working kid who loves volleyball, and we are all really fortunate to have her with our program,” added head coach Ken Bentley.
Other nominees: Heather Benko (UNB), Anica Pineault (UQAM), Oceane Raymond-Leduc (Nipissing)
Student-athlete Community Service Award: Christina Stratford, McMaster
A third-year setter, Christina Stratford found her stride over the 2022-23 season. The Burlington local ranks in the Top 10 in both setter statistical categories. Stratford averages 6.62 assists per set (No. 8 in the OUA) and has recorded a total of 417 assists (No. 10 in the OUA). She also added nine kills, six service aces and 107 digs throughout the regular season.
Academically, Stratford is a 3x U SPORTS Academic All-Canadian and a 3x member of the Dean’s List at McMaster.
When not on the court or in the classroom, the fourth-year kinesiology student stays active in her McMaster and Hamilton communities. Stratford, the Marauders’ captain, is the Co-President of the Varsity Leadership Committee, where she implements educational workshops, improves engagement across teams at events (e.g. Paint Night) and promotes mental health initiatives. Stratford is also an executive member of the Mac Athletes Care and the Women's Athletic Leadership Council. In these roles, she coordinates the Raise the Grade Program for the Boys and Girls Club of Hamilton and is involved in creating workshops and seminars for female athletes at McMaster.
Across campus, Stratford is a Science Society/Kinesiology Mentor and a tutor.
In the Hamilton community, the veteran setter is the Head Coach of the 17U Kilimanjaro MVC team and before that, she served as an Assistant Coach within the club. She is also a grade seven and eight student mentor, where she holds interactive workshops for the students.
Other nominees: Cassidy Martin (Moncton), Béatrice Lamarche (Laval), Averie Allard (Saskatchewan)
Coach of the year: Claude Tremblay, Université du Québec à Montréal
Under Coach Claude Tremblay's leadership, UQAM secured five straight playoff berths, but the 2022-23 season marked many firsts for the Citadins.
After winning six of their last seven regular season games, UQAM finished their regular season atop the RSEQ ranking with the best record (13-5) in program history. Coach Tremblay and the Citadins followed up their impressive regular season play with UQAM’s first conference banner and first national championship berth in women’s volleyball.
The RSEQ championship win on March 4 proved to be a historic night for the Citadins, as UQAM earned three conference banners within one hour (women’s volleyball, men’s and women’s basketball).
Tremblay’s team included the RSEQ MVP Sabrina Mayer and Rookie of the Year Anica Pineault, who both played integral roles in the team's success.
Coach Tremblay is the first person from UQAM to win a major award in volleyball.
Other nominees: Michelle Wood (Acadia), Steve Delaney (Brock), Phil Hudson (Winnipeg)
2023 WOMEN’S VOLLEYBALL AWARDS & ALL-CANADIANS
- Most valuable player: Gabrielle Attieh, Fraser Valley
- Rookie of the year: Raya Surinx, Manitoba
- Student-athlete Community Service Award: Christina Stratford, McMaster
- Coach of the year: Claude Tremblay, Université du Québec à Montréal
First Team All-Canadians
Second Team All-Canadians
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