W.H. Croxford High School alumna and current University of Calgary volleyball player Daisy Olsen was able to adapt quickly to the university level this year, landing a spot on the Canada West all-rookie team.
Olsen, an 18-year-old right-side hitter, was an immediate impact player for the U of C Dinos in her first year of post-secondary competition. According to a Dinos news release, she registered a team-high 258 kills, 152 digs, 40 blocks, and 28 service aces in 2022-23. She recorded double-digit kills in 13 of her games, and was also just one of three Dinos players to feature in all 99 sets the team took to the floor for this season.
After consistently strong performances all season long, Olsen was listed among the Canada West conference's top seven rookies on Feb. 26. She was the only member of the Dinos named to the all-rookie team.
“It definitely came as a surprise, but I was really excited,” said Olsen. “It felt like all that hard work I’d put into volleyball was paying off. I can’t wait to see how it goes [next year].”
The Dinos had a strong season in 2022-23, qualifying for the Canada West playoffs with a 13-11 record. Once in the playoffs, they made it to the conference quarterfinals before losing to cross-town rival, the Mount Royal University Cougars.
“It was for sure a bit tough, but [MRU] are a really good team and they really wanted it,” Olsen said. “I think they deserved to win. But there’s always next year. Next year is going to be a really good opportunity for us.”
On the other side of the net from Olsen in that conference quarterfinal match-up was another Airdrie volleyball product who earned Canada West honours this season – Cougars fifth-year right-side hitter Haley Roe. The alumna of Bert Church High School was one of three MRU players named to the conference all-star team, after she led the Cougars with 49 service aces and 266 kills this season.
Olsen joined the Dinos in 2022 after excelling for the W.H. Croxford Cavaliers during her high-school volleyball career, while also playing competitive club volleyball for a team in Calgary. In her Grade 12 year, she led the Cavaliers senior girls to a second-place finish at the South Central Zones 4A tournament – one spot shy of qualifying for provincials.
After graduating, she was a member of the Alberta U18 women's team that earned the silver medal at the 2022 Canada Summer Games in P.E.I. She then joined the Dinos in the fall.
The Airdronian admitted she didn't expect to play as key a role for U of C as she ultimately did this season.
“I wasn’t sure if I’d be on the travelling roster, so was kind of fighting for my spot on the team,” she said. “But it was definitely a nice surprise to be able to play and it was a lot of fun.”
Olsen said she immediately noticed the higher calibre of competition in university volleyball compared to her previous club or high-school leagues.
“It’s definitely a lot faster, and a lot more communication is needed, she said. “You really have to gel with your team. And there’s no one bad team [in our conference] – everyone is really good, so you have to be on you’re 'A' game at all times.”
She said her biggest takeaway from her first year of U Sports volleyball is the importance of communication.
“I think communication is a big part of volleyball and I really improved in that area,” she said. “Learning how to talk more – that was very beneficial and good for my game.”