Humber reigns supreme and takes home the top hardware yet again.
Fourth year chief hitter Thalia Hanniman, of Pembroke, Ont., has earned plenty of accolades during her Humber volleyball career, but none as prestigious as the OCAA’s highest individual honour.
Ontario coaches named All-Canadian Hanniman as the OCAA Player of the Year at the 2015 Provincial Championship Award’s Banquet held in Burlington, Ont., on Feb. 26.
Humber’s Captain and top recipient succeeds former Hawk’s superstar Kelly Nyhoff who took home the same MVP award in the previous two seasons, and it marked the fourth time a Hawks’ female volleyball player won player of the year in the last five years.
Hanniman currently ranks first in the OCAA for overall points per set and fourth in the nation for kills averaging 3.55 a set, making her a standout presence in every game of Humber’s undefeated record.
Despite this impeccable attack record the three-time All-Canadian modestly reveals that she didn’t anticipate her name was going to take top spot amongst Ontario’s best.
“I hoped for it because I worked hard all year, but I didn’t really expect the award at all,” Hanniman said.
In true captain form, the three-time All-Canadian modestly attributes her success on the court to the performance of her teammates.
“We have a lot of bangers on our team,” said Hanniman. “With all our big hitters and with our hard work we as a team we looked good (in the 2014-15 season).”
Humber’s Athletics Manager Jim Bialek and fellow Humber varsity community have no problem expressing their pride in the Humber volleyball star. Bailek praises Hanniman’s ability to be a dynamic attacking edge the Hawks’ formula needed in prior years.
“Humber has produced the top middles in the province if not the country,” he said. “What Humber has lacked was a real consistent outside hitting presence. And what Thalia is able to bring is a real outside hitting presence.
“Now we have weapons all over,” said Bailek.
Head Coach Chris Wilkins is known for his staff’s ability to develop players into some of Canada’s most elite assets in the sport of volleyball. In Thalia’s case, he admits it comes down to her intense drive and work ethic.
“I knew she was going to be good, but I had no idea she would develop to become this good,” he said. “It was nice to see with her work ethic how she pushed herself to be better with every year.”
“First year she was a role-player coming off the bench, and next year she got herself to start, and then the next year she was an all-star, and then by this year she was an All-Canadian and player of the year,” said Wilkins.
The women’s volleyball team now looks towards a gold medal finish at Nationals, a feat that’s eluded them time and time again. But onlookers recognize the squad has ironed out its wrinkles, and with Thalia at the helm of this big-hitting team, a CCAA Championship is within reach.
“The bottom line is Thalia has been able to increase her presence in every game because the team has become stronger at more positions on the court,” Bailek said. “And this will make all the difference at the National stage.”