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Buckeye spiker shines in face of adversity

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Miles Macdonell left-side Cassie Bujan is shown.

PHOTO BY JORDAN THOMPSON Enlarge Image

Miles Macdonell left-side Cassie Bujan is shown. Photo Store

The Miles Macdonell Collegiate Buckeyes varsity girls’ volleyball team saw its season come to an end earlier than hoped, but that can’t hang on Cassie Bujan.

The Grade 12 left-side was a major contributor for the No. 3-ranked Buckeyes, who fell in three sets to the No. 2 Neelin Spartans of Brandon during the MHSAA’s Boston Pizza AAAA Provincial Championship semifinal on Nov. 27. The day before, Bujan was honoured as the Home Run Sports Urban Athlete of the Week.

Bujan led the team through the tough match, as the Buckeyes didn’t get their full complement of starters on the floor until the second set, as a winter storm and poor driving conditions caused several players to be late for the game.

Noting the Brandon players left for the game in the early afternoon and were working with relatively-easier roads on the Trans-Canada Highway, head coach Nadia Melon said the growth in Bujan’s leadership was apparent as Miles Mac did its best to fend off a Neelin onslaught.

"In terms of leadership, I thought she really stepped up and brought that part to the game," Melon said. "Those who didn’t get too much of a chance to play throughout the year and then they were thrown into the provincial semifinals — that can be quite daunting for them — she was able to calm their nerves."

Bujan, who also is a member of the Cobras Volleyball Club, credited her teammates with handling a wild situation as best they could.

"We stayed together — everybody’s attitudes were just where we needed them," Bujan said.

Bujan, who stands just 5-6, said her main focus of the season was to improve her game away from the ball, as she looked to improve her vision of the game from the back row.

"I tried to work on my defence because I am one of the smaller players," Bujan said.

"(I looked to improve at) reading the hitters, where I think they’re going to hit, and being able to dig hard balls," she added, noting she felt the St. Mary’s Tournament in late October was when she really began hitting her stride. She was named a tournament all-star at that event and at the St. Vital Invitational.

Melon took note of Bujan’s vast improvement in the area, noting her defence became one of her strong suits this season, while her passing and calm demeanour were other assets to her game.

Bujan, who lives in Anola but commutes to Winnipeg for the Miles Macdonell’s strong athletic and International Baccalaureate programs, plans to attend the University of Manitoba in the fall with the hopes of eventually attending medical school. In the classroom, she maintains a 93% average.

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