Ottawa native Ashley Matier knew that 2005-06 would be a rebuilding year for the Cambrian College Golden Shield Women�s Volleyball team. But as she readily admits, �I have never seen that many key injuries to the same team in a single year.� Still, this hasn�t deterred her commitment to return one iota as the 18 year-old looks to help the much-lauded program make a return visit to Nationals.
The youngest of two girls in the family, Ashley Matier grew up in the spotlight of competitive hockey, a passion she pursued until roughly two years ago when a nagging knee injury forced her from the competitive side of the sport. A naturally talented athlete, the graduate of John McCrae Secondary School in Barrhaven was first introduced to volleyball in middle school, playing in grade seven and eight.
At the same time, Matier began to further her interest in volleyball, joining up with the Ottawa Kangaroos Volleyball Club, where she would develop alongside a squad that became one of the top in the province within their age group. �Volleyball was not a sport that a lot of people were playing really competitively, at least not like hockey� explained the first year Police Foundations student.
It wasn�t long before Matier migrated to the setter position, an adjustment that took a little time. �I love to hit, but as setter, I�m supposed to set up the plays, make the pass� she said. �But if you�re smart about it, you can still be an outlet at times when you take the first hit�, a more common occurrence with her club team which most often played a 6/2 formation, allowing for two setters on the court simultaneously.
Suiting up with a club team that would eventually win Nationals and produce a handful of athletes who pursued NCAA scholarships south of the border, Matier said it was easy to sometimes be overlooked as the team�s second setter. But her performance caught the eye of Cambrian coaches Dale Beausoleil and Michael Margarit, both key factors in drawing the talented teen to the local college.
�It was really a toss up between Durham and here�but I really liked the coaches and I knew how competitive the team had been� noted Matier, who added that she was absolutely overwhelmed at the one on one coaching she�s been provided in truly defining her role as a single setter within the Cambrian game plan.
�My approach changed a bit, it was really important for me to follow my own thoughts on where the ball should be set.� Even working with a device such as a �setter�s ball�, a practice instrument designed specifically to help develop a setter�s skills, was a new experience for Matier.
And while missing the playoffs in her rookie season at Cambrian was not necessarily what Matier had in mind when she committed to Beausoleil and company, it has not detracted her resolve to see the program return to its more familiar perch atop the OCAA standings. �A year when it�s a little bumpy makes you respect the other years and what you achieve. It makes me want to work even harder for next year.�