There is no denying that Shawna Metcalf has been blessed with natural athletic ability almost since Day 1.
The veteran of the Cambrian Golden Shield women's volleyball team, who has established new provincial standards for both kills and total points in her final year of OCAA eligibility, starred in a variety of roles during her time at Marymount Academy.
In addition to helping lead the Regals volleyball team to success, Metcalf also was among the best in the city in both track and field and flag football.
But when it comes to the level of post-secondary varsity athletics, the fourth-year nursing student is hardly unique.
“There's girls out there that can jump higher than me, that can hit harder than me,” she said after a recent practice.
Yet it is Metcalf who is putting some distance on the OCAA marks that she hopes will stand for at least a few years to come.
“I think the difference is my mental game and my competitive nature,” she said. “I really get aggressive when I play, I battle at the net.”
The bread and butter for Metcalf, a powerful left-side hitter, has been the “kill,” the volleyball terminology used to describe a attacker that scores directly off a spike.
Over time, and with the help of coaches Dale Beausoleil and Mike Margarit, Metcalf has refined her technique.
“I don't necessarily look to just hit it as hard as I can,” she said. “I look for spots. I look for who is not playing well during a game. And I kind of mix it up. I've been playing a lot of the players in the OCAA for four years, so they know what I am going to do.”
Over that time period, Metcalf has also worked in tandem with a core of talent at Cambrian, most notably setter Jillian Shell, a one-time middle when she graduated from Lo-Ellen Park Secondary a few years back.
“Jill has improved so much,” said Metcalf. “It's made it easy for me.”
Certainly, a good first pass is always a good beginning to mounting an effective attack. But few will ever diminish the role of the setter.
“If the setter is not having a good day, then it throws everyone else off,” said Metcalf. “You depend a lot on your setter.”
Though she admits to not even being aware of the league records when she started at Cambrian, breaking a pair of season marks in her freshman year kind of got the ball rolling.
“After my first year, I just kept trying to do better,” said Metcalf. “By doing that each year, I kind of built up on the career records.”
With the individual accolades now out of the way, Metcalf and her mates can focus on the greater goals.
The Shield closed out regular-season play against the Boréal Vipères last night, having already clinched a top two spot in the East and, with it, a first round playoff bye.
Cambrian will gather with seven other championship hopefuls from Feb. 21-23rd in Peterborough as Trent University plays host to the 2013 OCAA volleyball competition.