Special to the Langley Advance
In the run-up to this weekend’s clash of Canadian women’s volleyball superpowers between Langley’s No. 1-ranked Trinity Western Spartans and the No. 2-ranked UBC Okanagan Heat of Kelowna, Spartans head coach Ryan Hofer found himself counting all the ways in which star hitter Sophie Carpentier has been a player of influence.
“She has been such a force that I started to put a portfolio together of everything that she is able to do and I counted 15 different shots that she is really good at,” Hofer said Thursday.
Yet it turns out there is a 16th way in which the 6-foot-2 Ottawa native is able to take a cut and when the two-game series wraps up Saturday night at the Langley Events Centre, it will count for so much more than any amount of points the Spartans will score as they prepare to defend their status as reigning CIS national champions.
Last year, one of Carpentier’s nearest and dearest friends, a woman she has known since the age of three and someone who she calls a “second mom” was diagnosed with cancer.
“It was her birthday in January,” says Carpentier, “so I asked my mom to send me a picture of her. She had just shaved her head because she was going through treatments. She was gorgeous just as she was. And I don’t know what happened to me at that moment, but right away in my head I knew I had to donate my hair.”
And so the long, floppy ponytail, which Carpentier will have played the weekend series with and calls a “part of my identity,” will be lopped off and donated to Locks of Love as part of a campaign to raise money for the Canadian Cancer Society.
“She is nervous and scared to go out of her own comfort zone to do something for a friend,” says Hofer. “But she is showing a level of maturity that makes her one of the leaders of this team.”
Since stepping forward with her plan, Carpentier had already raised $1,250 in advance of the event, which will take place Saturday during the Spartans’ men’s volleyball match against the Heat (7 p.m. start). You can donate to the cause by visiting Carpentier’s GoFundMe page at gofundme.com/2ehefgng.
Trinity Western and UBC Okanagan women come into the Friday (6 p.m.) and Saturday (5 p.m.) matches playing the most complete volleyball of anyone in the nation.
The teams are not only sitting with 17-1 records atop the Canada West conference with three weekends of competition remaining, each has also produced identical 53-10 winloss records in sets played this season.
Although a conference regularseason title won’t be determined by the series, a sweep by either team would go a long way toward determining who finishes first and thus earns a bye weekend and the right to host the conference Final Four tournament, the precursor to the national championships at Brandon University March 11 to 13.
– Howard Tsumura is a reporter with the Vancouver Province.
For more from the Province, click HERE.