Video Spotlight - Lauren O'Reilly

LANGLEY, British Columbia - It’s not like Trinity Western women’s volleyball setter Lauren O’Reilly needed confirmation of her status amongst the best volleyball players in the world.

But it helped.  

Playing in Canada’s fifth and final game of the opening round of the FIVB 2010 Women’s World Championship against the Dominican Republic, O’Reilly did the red and white proud.

With the first set score 24-21 in favour of the maple leafed ones, O’Reilly found herself alone on an island going up to block hitter Prisilla Rivera, a 25-year-old who is a frequent MVP-style catalyst behind the oft-potent Dominican attack. And O’Reilly stuffed Rivera all by herself and as the Spartans setter would note, “it was a sick block” for the winning point.

“Our middle guessed wrong and I was alone with the outside,” O’Reilly recalled.  “This girl is a very veteran player. I just remember this block because it was a solo block and it was so good and the whole team was so happy and it ended that set.”

While stopping Rivera was just one play of hundreds on the world stage, it will no doubt stick out as a significant on-court memory for O’Reilly in a tournament she’ll never forget.

In only her second year with the national team, the Langley, B.C. product became Canada’s starting setter this summer and helped quarterback her country’s entry at this past fall’s world championships in Japan.

And although Canada’s women, currently ranked 21st in the world, didn’t win a single game in their five round robin contests, it was a thrilling experience for O’Reilly that is bound to pay huge dividends for both her and her Spartans teammates in the very near future.

“It was pretty crazy to be on a stage with all the best teams in the world and all the best players in the world and to be among those players was pretty insane,” O’Reilly said. “It was a really good learning experience. It definitely brought my game to a new level.

“I definitely feel my defence and blocking has improved and it’s great coming back.”

It’s been nearly a year since Trinity Western setter Lauren O’Reilly last donned the Spartan logo for a meaningful game as the last time she wore blue and white was in a 3-2 loss to Regina in TWU’s game of the Canada West Final Four on Feb. 27, 2010.

So naturally, since returning to the team and especially since practicing as the starting setter since the end of the fall semester, she’s pretty amped up to get on the Spartans court.

“I’m nervous for sure,” O’Reilly said of this weekend’s match with Calgary. “But I feel I can play well under pressure. I’m just so excited to play with these girls.

“It’s different between the two teams. Maybe this team isn’t a world level team but you just care so much about the players on the court, not that I don’t with Canada, but you’re just so much tighter. It’s just worth a lot more.”

And what a situation she is coming into.

For the first time in Spartans history, the women’s volleyball team is ranked No. 1 in Canada and currently sit atop the Canada West standings with a 9-1 record.

And that was all done without the best setter in Canada. And, apparently, also a solo blocking extraordinaire.

-TW-

Last Updated: 2011-01-27
Author: Mark Janzen