May 27, 2015 - 2:01 PM
KAMLOOPS - When the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack women’s volleyball hit the court to begin the 2015-16 Canada West season, they will have not one but two Ukrainian players on their roster.
Last season, Iuliia Pakhomenko’s performance not only turned heads but garnered her a CIS Second Team all-star selection: the first in school history.
Now head coach Chad Grimm has added Pakhomenko’s longtime teammate and friend Alina Sopizhuk to his roster. Sopizhuk has played the last three seasons in NCAA Division I. The last two at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, South Carolina. In 2012-13, Sopizhuk attended and played for the Oregon State Beavers.
“She and Iuliia played club and on the Ukraine Junior National team together,” Grimm said. “Interestingly enough, Iuliia was also recruited by Oregon State, but had challenges with her English, so OSU decided to recruit Alina.”
Similar to Pakhomenko’s eligibility status which brought her to TRU last year, Sopizhuk’s ‘NCAA clock’ had expired.
“She went to the States at 18 but at that point, she was two years out of high school so they gave her only three years of eligibility,” Grimm stated.
Due to the political uncertainty in her native Ukraine, the WolfPack coach was able to successfully lobby to have her academic/athletic eligibility which was used at home overturned by the CIS. That guarantees Sopizhuk two years of CIS play while she continues her education in Canada.
CIS rules state that if a player has had their ‘clock’ expire but not due to participation, then they will be eligible to play, which was the case with both Pakhomenko and Sopizchuk.
“I am very excited about coming to Thompson Rivers University,’ says the 6’0” Sopizhuk, who like Pakhomenko, will be enrolled in the Masters of Business program. “I have been to Canada and Kamloops before in 2011 when I took English courses in Vancouver.”
When it comes to TRU, she doesn’t care where Coach Grimm utilizes her. “I just love playing volleyball and can take any spot on the court. Even setter if needed (which I don’t recommend ha ha.)”
Sopizhuk is expected to arrive in Kamloops in late July or August.
She joins fellow recruits: Kendra Finch (5’11”, left side, North Vancouver, BC/Argyle Secondary-Team B.C.), Samantha Sonnenberg (6’, middle, Spruce Grove, AB/Spruce Grove Composite-Lakeland Rustlers, ACAC) and Amy Norman (6’ middle, Dawson Creek, B.C./North Peace Secondary-Grande Prairie Regional College, ACAC.)
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015