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Haley Makes a Return to CCAA Volleyball with Blazers

Haley Makes a Return to CCAA Volleyball with Blazers

The CMU Women's Volleyball program is very pleased to announce the commitment of Haley Bickell for the 2024-25 MCAC season. After a stint with the Durham Lords of the OCAA out of high school, the veteran outside is returning to the court herself after a couple of years coaching club here in Manitoba.

Perhaps "The Comet" might be an appropriate new nickname for Haley Bickell, as she makes her long-awaited return to the court after a few years away from playing competitive collegiate volleyball. The Winnipeg native was a rising star coming out of her youth club career, but had her CCAA volleyball path disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic after only one full season of play. Now, the pull of playing again seems to be too big of a force to counteract, as she blazes a new trail with CMU women's volleyball.

A graduate of Sturgeon Heights Collegiate in 2019, Bickell helped lead her senior year squad to a berth in the MHSAA "AAAA" Provincial Championships, where the team advanced to the elite eight stage of the tournament before their run ended. A setter on that team and team captain since her grade ten year, a late-season injury to her left hand in her final year forced her to lead from the outside where she could still be an effective asset to the team in their playoff run.

Bickell was no stranger to playing the attacking positions though, as she regularly slotted in on the left or right side with her WinMan club teams since she started there for her 15U season. In an interesting MCAC connection, Bickell played under head coach Evan Turenne at WinMan, who now coaches the Universite de Saint-Boniface Rouges women's squad; the Blazers' cross-town MCAC competition. In her final year of youth club she was named an All-Star at the Best of the West tournament where the team made a finals appearance, before taking home the provincial title back home along with a Provincial All-Star selection. A captain on her WinMan club teams as well, she was named Volleyball Manitoba 17U Player of the Year heading into her college career.

The rising star and highly touted prospect made her way East to Durham College to start her post-secondary playing career, where she suited up for the Lords in OCAA competition for the 2019-20 season. A perfect 18-0 record that year in league play was followed by a disappointing playoff exit in the final fours, robbing the squad of a chance to compete at the 2020 CCAA Women's Volleyball Nationals, which also happened to be the MCAC's first probationary year of acceptance into the CCAA. Already a regular attendee at the Durham Adidas Cup, Blazers women's volleyball matched up against Bickell and the Lords in January of 2020 in Oshawa in a clash of the green and gold programs. Perhaps it was written in the stars for the Winnipeg native to make a return to CCAA volleyball with CMU after their fated meeting in her first collegiate season. Named to the OCAA East All-Rookie team after her debut campaign, Bickell was robbed of the opportunity to follow it up when the pandemic-cancelled 2020-21 season held the team to limited training with no scheduled games.

After finishing up her second year of studies in Oshawa, Bickell returned home and started giving back to the volleyball community through coaching at her former WinMan club. A coach with the 16U squad last year, the NCCP Advanced Development certified coach moved up with the team for the 17U cohort this year, recently coming back from Volleyball Canada Youth Nationals. However, the pull of getting back to the court herself was too strong, and so she reached out to Blazers head coach Jayme Menzies, who was very intrigued by what the veteran transfer could bring to her team for 2024-25. "Haley is an excellent teammate, a hard worker, and a talented athlete in the front and back courts," notes Menzies. "As a bonus, Haley brings the game sense that comes with years of head coaching club volleyball. We're very excited to add another veteran of the game to the team."

Now training under Menzies alongside her new teammates, Bickell will have the chance to face off against her former WinMan club coach, Evan Turenne and his Les Rouges squad in the MCAC season opener on October 26th. If the stars align and the Blazers are able to defend their provincial title on home court, she will also earn herself the opportunity to play at a CCAA National Championships on her old home court at Durham College in Oshawa, completing the full circle moment.

CMU hosts the MCAC Provincial Championships at the conclusion of the 2024-25 season, the winner of which will have the honour of representing Manitoba at the CCAA Nationals held next March in Oshawa, Ontario at Durham College. The CCAA is the national body for collegiate athletics in Canada, offering 10 national championships in seven sports. Now finished its third full year of participation, the Manitoba Colleges Athletic Conference joins five other established CCAA conferences; PacWest (BC), ACAC (Alberta-Sask), OCAA (Ontario), RSEQ (Quebec) and ACAA (Atlantic).

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