The 2018-19 season has been a fun one for the UFV women’s volleyball team. Now sitting at 8-4, their campaign has been a positive one, sporting a 4-2 record on homecourt as well as on the road. A well-rounded and exciting team generally has no shortage of high skill players, and this is certainly the case for the Cascades. If you’ve attended any of the games so far this season, you know that one of them is second-year left side Amanda Matsui. Whether it’s a serving streak, a huge block, or a clutch shot, Amanda has emerged as a huge force for the Cascades, bringing talent and energy to a team with no lack of either. Long before the Cascades or even high school however, Amanda’s start to volleyball was different than many.
“I started when I was 12 with a training team that didn’t play any games, didn’t do anything at all. We were such a young team,” said Amanda.
Humble beginnings for a player who would emerge as a star at UFV, but the benefit Amanda had was a supportive family that had a bit of volleyball history themselves.
“My mom played, so we fooled around at the house. I had a little sister and an older sister, and we would go into little sports camps that would do basketball, floor hockey, and volleyball. I liked volleyball at a young age. I liked basketball too — those were the main two that I liked, and I just stuck it out with volleyball.”
With both her parents having played high school volleyball, it was only fitting that Amanda’s choice to play university-level ball came in the final year of her pre-UFV career, a year where she would have to choose between two sports she excelled at.
“I didn’t actually know until grade 12. I played basketball at a very competitive level (club basketball, Team B.C. basketball). I played club volleyball but it wasn’t as competitive as basketball. For the longest time, I thought I did want to play basketball.”
Coming out of high school, Amanda continued to grow and excel at volleyball, but a knee injury would provide heavy adversity going into her university career.
“I was in our Fraser Valley final of basketball and a girl ran into me the wrong way and took me out at my knee. I strained my ACL first, and then it tore after.”
To get such a severe injury on the cusp of a university career is tough, but to do so playing a sport you were about to give up in order to pursue your preferred sport is even harder.
“I had people in my high school tell me I was not going to come back from it, and that ‘You’re never going to be the same player, this sucks,’ and it was just like, really?”
Amanda, though she struggled with the pain of her injury and time away from volleyball, never quit and rebounded in the biggest way possible when she joined coach Mike Gilray and the UFV Cascades. By overcoming the obstacles of a serious injury and joining forces with UFV, her career has led to a large amount of success, as well as to a lot of fun.
As for hobbies away from the court, spending time with family and friends comes first for Amanda. Despite not playing basketball anymore, Amanda also enjoys watching basketball, and tries to make it out to home games when she has free time.
No interview would be complete without some controversy, and when it comes to a favourite post-game snack or meal, we all know the one food topic of debate that plagues our society.
“Maybe on a Saturday when there’s no game the next day, a post-game meal might be a nice Hawaiian pizza, with chocolate milk.”
There no doubt, whether you’re a valiant advocate of pineapple on pizza, or a staunch pizza traditionalist, we can all agree on one thing: Amanda’s story is both inspiring and fun.
Come see Amanda Matsui and the UFV Cascades play this weekend as they look to build on their four-game winning streak when they take on the Camosun Chargers in back-to-back games on Jan. 11 and 12 to begin 2019 at the Envision Financial Athletic Centre.
Image: Dan Kinvig