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Laetitia Tchoualack named CIS women's volleyball player of the year

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FREDERICTON - Power-hitter Laetitia Tchoualack of the Montreal Carabins was named the top player in Canadian university women's volleyball Wednesday for the second straight year.

Tchoualack, a fourth-year player from Paris, became the seventh player to win consecutive Mary Lyons awards and eighth to win it twice since the trophy was first presented in 1981-'82.

Other award winners include Alberta's Kelci French of Okotoks, Alta., (outstanding rookie), Western's Andrea Ruste of Edmonton (top libero), Montreal's Olivier Trudel (coach of the year) and U.B.C.'s Katie Tyzuk of Vancouver (excellence in volleyball, academics and community involvement).

The CIS championship begins Thursday.

Tchoualack is one of the most decorated female volleyball players in CIS history. She has been named the Quebec conference MVP three straight years and is a four-time CIS all-star.

Last year after leading the Carabins to a silver medal at the CIS tournament - a best-ever finish for the school - the five-foot-11 power hitter received the prestigious BLG award as CIS female athlete of the year.

This season, Tchoualack led the Quebec conference both in points (5.14) and kills (4.23) per set. Thanks in large part to her play, the Carabins have a 32-1 overall record and posted a 20-1 conference mark and a second straight Quebec title.

"Laetitia is an elite player because she wants the ball at the key moments of the game," said Trudel. "She's able to step up and score points when we need it the most.

"She also has an amazing personality, which makes her very accessible to her teammates both veterans and rookies. Everybody on the team enjoys her company."

French is only the second Alberta player to capture the top rookie honour. Jenny Cartmell accomplished the feat in 1995-'96.

French, 19, was seventh in Canada West with 3.51 points per set and ninth with a 2.86 kill-per-set average. She also ranked second in the conference with 0.43 services aces per game.

She helped the Pandas finish atop the Canada West overall standings for the first time in five years with a 16-4 record.

Ruste became the first player from the OUA conference to be named CIS libero of the year since the inception of the award in 2005-06.

The fourth-year Mustang team captain has been a defensive stalwart throughout her university career. A three-time OUA West all-star and OUA West libero of the year, Ruste led the CIS in digs per set for the second time this season with a 5.24 average. She also ranked first in 2006-'07 (5.74), and finished third last season (5.11).

Trudel is the first Carabin to be named CIS coach of the year and the Quebec conference's first winner of the honour since Sherbrooke's Normand Bouchard in 2000-'01.

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