The Lakeland College Rustlers women’s volleyball team operates out of the Lloydminster campus as part of the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference. Last weekend, the Rustlers headed to Nanaimo, BC for the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association national competition and absolutely dominated the field, walking off the court with the title.
At the heart of that gutsy team effort was Muenster’s Jenay Varga. Varga amassed an incredible 41 kills during the tournament. She was named All-Star Canadian for her season’s performance and won the MVP for the Nationals tournament. It’s in Jenay’s nature to put her team right alongside her in her accomplishments, but she appreciates the awards she’s earned.
“It feels pretty good,” Varga admits. “It’s pretty nice to be recognized like that.”
Varga has earned recognition for her volleyball play throughout her career having grown up with her high calibre contending brothers Devon, Lyndon and Skyler. Her parents, Darren and Jewel Varga, were coaches for a lot of kids coming up through club volleyball in and around Muenster. Like all small town high school athletes, Jenay played every sport that was out there and excelled with her natural abilities as an athlete, but her immersion in volleyball has carried her to the heights in that sport.
Rustlers head coach Austin Dyer has spent time in Humboldt working with youth on camps and identifying key players to slot into Lakeland’s highly recognized program. There’s no doubt in his mind that Varga fit the bill for the types of players he likes to recruit. It led to the team’s second national title, the first one achieved in 2017. The Rustlers went 18-1 in their regular ACAC season and went 3-0 in their Conference tournament to emerge as one of the top seeds in Nationals.
“It’s a veteran team right now with a lot of firepower, but that’s definitely earmarked by Jenay Varga,” says Coach Dyer. “Through the regular season, she led the ACAC in kills and kills per set. She led in service aces and service aces per set. Her numbers were very competitive nationally, in the top five in those categories in the CCAA.”
Dyer says along with the already mentioned accolades, Varga was selected as an all-conference outside hitter and the ACAC North Division player of the year and later as the Conference player of the year. That multi-sport background goes a long way to help with the athleticism required to complete at this level, admits Dyer.
“She’s an all around athlete and she’s very good at what she does, but she’d never tell you that. She’s the most humble elite athlete I have ever come across and had the privilege to coach. All she does is work hard every day and puts all the time and effort in to get stronger and better - to be a student of the game and to improve everything she does. She’s always going to put her teammates first.”
Dyer says the combination of skill and advocacy for her teammates is rare, and it makes her “the full package.” So when asked who has her back on her success, it’s no surprise that Varga credits her teammates and her family.
“It’s not a single player sport, so you need all hands on for it, including Coach Austin with all his dedication and the work he puts in for us.”