Named Top Offensive Player and MVP as a third-year power with the College of the Rockies Avalanche, Kelsey Thompson expects an even bigger role as a senior in PacWest women’s volleyball this fall.
Thompson, who played five years high school ball with the Fulton Maroons, taking female athlete of the year five times, began her collegiate career with the Grant MacEwan University Griffins in Edmonton as a freshman. The Griffins placed third in league play.
“I was on a scholarship there, but I wanted to go back to B.C. and I kind of made the Avalanche as a walk-on,” said Thompson, who turns 21 in September.
“Last year’s team was older and we were one game short of making the B.C.’s. This year, I’ll be one of the older girls and will have to be a little more of a leader as a senior. We have five or six starters back and we’re actually going to be really good.
“The league’s pretty close. We went to five (games) with VIU (Vancouver Island University Mariners of Nanaimo) and they won provincials. If we can all put it together at the same time, we can beat anybody.”
The Avs, who just missed the sixth and final playoff berth, were leading the Mariners 2-1 before dropping the home match on Jan. 31.
“She should have made the second all-star team easily but when you don’t have a (playoff) record, you get dismissed,” said Andrew Zurrin, an assistant who took over as head coach in January. “All the voting is done on the coast.”
Thompson was consistently in the top-five offensive and top-10 defensive statistics in the Pacific Western Athletic Association. She finished with 269 kills, 292 digs and 28 aces for the season.
Added Zurrin: “When a player leads your team in all offensive catagories, serve receives in all rotations and controls your defence in the back row, you cannot win without her on the court. That is what makes Kelsey an MVP.”
Zurrin is stoked about the Avs’ chances this season.
“I’ve got a lot of athletes and it should be a lot of fun. Kelsey was a co-captain last year and I will ask her again this year. It’s not just a title, it comes with leadership and we need her to teach the rookies and be a mother, not a drill seargent.”
Thompson has a tourism and recreation diploma and is two years into a business degree. She plans to stretch courses out so she can play two more seasons with the Avs.
Cranbrook is a quiet and beautiful town,” said the 5-foot-7 daughter of rec hockey goalie Jay and Teresa Thompson, her two biggest fans. “We all went to watch the (Western Hockey League Kootenay) Ice in the playoffs and they come to support us. It’s just them and us in town.”
Thompson, who struck silver indoors for the Okanagan zone in volleyball at the 2008 B.C. Summer Games in Kelowna and bronze in beach doubles (with Keirsten Mend) at the 2011 Games in Langley, uses her athleticism to compete with much taller opponents.
“My vertical is pretty good and so is my passing. I’m kind of short for my position, but I was third or fourth in kills (league) last season.”
She is playing reverse 2-on-2 grass volleyball and working at Marble Slab at home this summer.
After college, she would love to travel for a year or two and get into event planning.
Her 16-year-old sister, Jess, was a power/libero with the Fulton senior Maroons last season.
The Avs have five Albertan recruits this season: left side Caity Rook of Cochrane, outside hitter Arianna Benwell of Okotoks, libero Alexa Koshman of Lethbridge, power Mackenzie Morey of Calgary and middle Taylor Forster of Calgary.