Posted on: August 22, 2017
—The Thompson Rivers University WolfPack women’s volleyball team has completed its 2017-18 recruiting campaign with the announcement that three experienced players are joining the program.
Head coach Chad Grimm and the WolfPack are pleased to announce that Yevgenia “Jean” Nyukhalova of Severodontsk, Ukraine, Anastasiia Muzyka of Poltawa, Ukraine and Morgan Rigelhof of St. Albert, Alberta will officially join the program September 1st.
Muzyka (pronounced moo-zeek-a) is a 6’2” setter while Nyukhalova (pronounced new-ha-low-va) is a 6’4” outside hitter. Rigelhof (pronounced riggle-hoff) is a 5’10” outside player.
Muzyka played the last two seasons in Azerbaijan. She is a permanent resident of Canada after her parents immigrated to Edmonton, Alberta. Nyukalova has played in a number of countries most recently Switzerland and the Philippines while Rigelhof spent the last two years attending and playing for the University of Alberta Augustana campus in Camrose .
Says Grimm about the three: “I think this group of girls will bring experience and a level of professionalism to our team. Yevegeniya has played with some of the top clubs in Europe (Volero Zurich, Le Cannet) and has participated in two club world championships. She will bring that big game experience to our club. Anastasiia has competed with Azerail Baku and also with Azerbaijan so is no stranger to the big stage herself. Having girls that have competed at this level will help our team to develop and increase our level of competition on an everyday basis. Morgan comes from a strong Pandas club program (Edmonton) and after being selected the ACAC (Alberta College Athletics Association) North rookie of the year in her first season, she was out with an injury last year. She will come in here healthy and ready to compete.”
On how the three wound up at TRU, Grimm states “Morgan contacted us last year and came to Kamloops in the summer before she returned to college for her second season. The feedback I got from her previous athletics director was that she was a great teammate and would be a great addition to any program she joined. That has definitely been my experience with Morgan to this point. I was put in contact with Anastasiia through a friend of mine, Jason Haldane (former national team player with Canada and Britain and current Canadian men’s team assistant coach). He coached her as a youth in Azerbaijan and let me know her parents had moved to Canada and she was looking to study at a university. On one of our trips to Edmonton, we were able to meet with her parents and discussed the possibility of her playing at TRU and were able to have her join us this season which has been great. She will add another dimension to our setting core and her and Abby (Spratt, 2nd year, setter, Calgary, AB-Canada West all-rookie team selection) will solidify that position for years to come. We found out about Yevgeniya through Iullia (Pakhomenko, two time CIS All-Canadian) who had played with her as a youth in the Ukraine and was still in contact with her. At the end of her season in Europe, she contacted us and let us know she would like to come to Canada and get an education. We are happy to help make that happen.”
Muzyka will be taking courses aimed at entering TRU’s school of Law to specialize in immigration law. “I want to help others to immigrate to Canada. This is a great country which gives immigrants a bright future.”
When it comes to her future teammates, she says “Lots of positive energy. The girls are so welcoming. Morgan (former WolfPack middle blocker Kolasa) took me in and helped me find a place to live. They are so helpful if I don’t understand something.”
Nyukhalova is enrolled in the Bachelor of Business Administration program but is eyeing a switch to Tourism where she would like to get involved in event management. “I am so happy to be coming to TRU and to play for Chad and Nathan (WolfPack assistant Bennett), I can see they are very positive and it’s going to be easy to learn from them.”
Like her friend Pakhomenko, Nyukhalova is very modest when it comes to her strengths and she doesn’t feel it is fair to be asked to compare their skill levels. She modestly says: “you (the fans, media etc) will have to determine it for yourselves.”
She adds she is so happy to be in Canada, Kamloops and at Thompson Rivers. “It is so beautiful here. It is like living in a movie. I love nature and I saw a deer on campus my second day here. It is going to be a wonderful five years going to school and playing for the WolfPack.”
Rigelhof had set playing at the USport level since she was in grade 11. The St. Albert Catholic High School grad says Thompson Rivers had everything she wanted: a top Science program (she has aspirations of being a vet in the future), an up and coming volleyball program and she wanted to move to British Columbia. She has summered in the Shuswap since she was young. She plays both the left and right side.
As for her strengths: “I do not give up,” she laughs. “We have a lot of enthusiasm on this team. There is always a way to do something and I think my strength is that I am able to find that way to succeed—constantly learning or working to make it better.” She credits fellow Edmontonian Kyle Beheils of the WolfPack men’s volleyball team for helping sell her on the school and the team’s benefits as well. “He sold it hard core,” she laughs.
The WolfPack open training camp officially the beginning of September. Their preseason includes a trip to Eastern Canada to play teams in Ottawa and Laval, Quebec.
They open up their 2017-18 Canada West season at home on the Warner Rentals Court at the Tournament Capital Centre on Friday, October 20th when the MacEwan University Griffins come to town. Game time will be 6 pm.
SIDE OUTS: Grimm on comparing Nyukhalova to arguably the best player in Canadian University women’s volleyball the last three years in Iullia Pakhomenko: “ Yevegeniya is similar to Iuliia in that she is a tall outside hitter that has the ability to play both outside positions. I would say that they differ in the way they play the game in some senses but are both effective players and I am looking forward to working with her throughout her career at TRU.”
Grimm on his 2017-18 recruiting class: “All three of these girls combined with our previous addition in Katie Ludvig (Sa-hali Secondary, Kamloops, BC) are good people that want to make the team better. I am looking forward to training as a whole group and building the growth we had last season.”