UBC volleyball star Liz Cordonier named CIS female athlete of the year

CALGARY – Liz Cordonier, who helped the UBC Thunderbirds to a perfect 27-0 season in women’s volleyball, was named the top female athlete in Canadian university sport for the 2009-2010 season on Monday night at the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) BLG Awards

Cordonier was presented with the Jim Thompson Trophy named after the late president of TSN and CEO of the Canadian Olympic Committee

"It's a bit overwhelming,” she told Canwest. “This is obviously the cherry on top, it's so amazing. It's just an incredible thing to be honoured as a Canadian athlete, and it really makes me proud to represent my country."

The six-foot-one outside hitter completed her CIS eligibility in perfect fashion, earning CIS player-of-the-year honours and leading the Thunderbirds to a third consecutive national title.

She is the third UBC athlete to win at a BLG Awards, and gives the school back-to-back victories after swimmer Annamay Pierse won last year. Cordonier earns a $10,000 scholarship for grad school studies.

"My teammates and coaches deserve a lot of credit for this award," said Cordonier, in the midst of preparing for the World Beach Volleyball Tour. "I was privileged to be part of a group of exceptional athletes and individuals these past few years. There were no egos on our team. We were all pursuing the same objective. I will forever cherish my time at UBC."

The 23-year-old arts major became the first Thunderbird in history to be named CIS player of the year in women's volleyball after she finished third in Canada West in both kills (3.37) and points (4.00) per set, fifth in service aces (0.36 per set) and eighth in hitting percentage (.281).

Her stellar play helped UBC maintain No. 1 status in each of the 13 weekly national coaches' polls, post a 20-0 record in the regular season and a 27-0 overall mark against CIS opponents, including a sweep of their three duels at the CIS championship en route to a third straight national title. Fittingly, she earned one final honour following the gold-medal final as she was chosen MVP of the CIS tournament.

A three-time Canada West all-star and two-time all-Canadian, Cordonier excels both at the indoor and beach games. A member of the national team who represented Canada at the 2007 Summer Universiade in Thailand, she is also part of the National Beach Program and will compete on the World Beach Volleyball Tour in 2010.

"Once again this year, all nominees would have been worthy winners," said CIS chief executive officer Marg McGregor. "Over 10,000 student-athletes compete in CIS annually and to make it to the final eight is an exceptional accomplishment. We are very proud of all the finalists and congratulate Liz and Erik on winning these prestigious awards."

Five women's volleyball players had previously claimed the honour including Montreal's Laetitia Tchoualack in 2008, Laval's Marylène Laplante in 2006, Calgary's Joanna Niemczewska in 2004, Alberta's Jenny Cartmell in 2000 and Winnipeg's Diane Scott in 1993.

Cordonier comes from an exceptional athletic family.  She played her rookie season with UBC alongside older sister Emily, a two-time CIS all-Canadian who was also on the Team Canada roster at the 2007 Universiade. Her brothers Joe and John currently play for the T-Birds men's team. Her father, John, rowed for Canada at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal.

The BLG Awards ceremony will be shown on TSN on Sunday, May 16.