LANGLEY, British Columbia – The Trinity Western men’s volleyball continues to beef up its line-up with some serious size and skill as coach Ben Josephson officially announced the signing of outside hitters Tyler Heppell (6-foot-5, Langley, B.C.) and Ryan Sclater (6-foot-6, Port Coquitlam, B.C.) and setter Scott Plocktis (6-foot-4, Kelowna, B.C.) Friday.
The Spartans latest trio of recruits represents The Province Newspaper’s Class of 2012 B.C. Player of the Year (as voted by B.C. CIS coaches) in Heppell, the player of the year runner up in Sclater and the fourth ranked player in the province in Plocktis.
“These three mark the best all-B.C. recruiting class our program has ever seen,” Josephson said. “We have had many great classes over the years but this is the first year in which we have 100 per cent home grown talent coming in.
“All three of these young men have received a ton of great coaching over the years and have a tremendous amount of volleyball experience. They will all be on the same club team [the Fraser Valley Volleyball Club] this coming year so they will get the chance to learn to play together. These three, along with [first-year Spartans libero] Tyler Koslowsky will make up the core of our future cycle and the future looks very bright.”
Heppell comes to Trinity Western after an impressive career at both the high school, with Langley Christian, and club, with FVVC, levels and, in the process, has largely been coached by Trinity Western alumni.
With FVVC, the local product has twice won the provincial championship, in 2008 and 2010 – being named a provincial all-star in 2009 and 2010 – and, at the most recent national championship, he helped his team to a bronze medal while was being named a national all-star. Heppell, alongside both Sclater and Plocktis, played for Team BC in 2010 and 2011, most notably helping his team to a gold medal at the 2011 Western Elite Championship where he earned tournament MVP honours. He also won a bronze medal at the 2011 Western Canada Summer Games.
With Langley Christian, Heppell guided his team to third place at the 2011 AA Provincial Championship and was named a First Team All-Star. He was also named a Fraser Valley Championship and Provincial Championship All-Star in 2010.
“Tyler is gifted with a great arm and length,” Josephson said. “These tools will allow him to develop into a great scorer on the wing and from the baseline for us. He is working hard at becoming a great passer and he has all the tools to be just that.”
“Tyler is a perfect fit for us. He has played with FVVC for a number of years now so he is well aware of our culture and systems. He comes from Langley Christian, which is coached by Jesse Zuidhof, an alumni and former teammate of mine, so he comes from a culture that promotes much of the same ideals we at Spartan men’s volleyball stand for. And he has grown up watching us play and aspired to one day be a Spartan. These elements set Tyler up to jump right in and be a great member of our team.
“As a teammate, Tyler shows a ton of leadership emotionally. He is a great competitor but not at the expense of those around him. He looks to make those around him better and is genuinely excited for his teammates to succeed. This selfless attitude will make him a great Spartan for years to come.”
Heppell, who plans to study business, said: “Trinity Western has everything I want in a university. It has a strong Christian background, it is close to home, it has a great business school and it has an amazing volleyball program.”
Sclater comes to Trinity Western with lofty credentials both on the court and in the classroom.
Sclater, who will graduate from Terry Fox Secondary this spring, has been a member of Team BC for the past two years and, most recently, in 2011, captained the team to a gold medal at Western Elite Championship.
Sclater is also a member of the Centre of Excellence, which is a Volleyball Canada initiative that provides high performance training.
While he never played high school volleyball because Terry Fox doesn’t have a team, he did play and star for both his school’s basketball and soccer teams.
“Ryan brings a very unique skill set to us,” Josephson said. “He is very tall and long but possesses great athleticism. He is a big jumper and has great speed and agility, which will aid him in being a great passer. For a tall player he has exceptional ball control and we will look for him to be an outstanding passer for us down the road. Ryan is a great multi-sport athlete, he has an extreme desire to compete and his God-given athleticism is something we love.
“Away from the court Ryan is equally talented. He is a disciplined student and he also has a great heart for God. We will look for him to develop as one of our spiritual leaders as he matures in the program. Ryan also has a great understanding of team and what it takes to be a teammate. These are virtues we hold with the highest esteem.”
While his exploits on the court have certainly turned heads, off the court he’s been equally as proficient. He was accepted into Trinity Western with a 4.3 GPA and thus far has a 96% average throughout his high school career. He was the top academic student at Terry Fox in Grade 9 and was the academic athlete of the year in both Grade 9 and Grade 10.
“I’m attending TWU because I want to be on the best team in the country, be in a faith building environment and be with an awesome group of guys for the next four or five years,” said Sclater, who plans to study sciences at Trinity Western. “And it’s half an hour away from house. What more could I want?”
Plocktis, who will graduate from West Kelowna’s Mount Boucherie Secondary this spring, joins the Spartans already with a litany of both team and individual accomplishments.
Most recently, Plocktis was named to the First All-Star Team at the 2011 AAA Provincial Championships where he helped his team to a seventh place. Prior to this past high school volleyball season, Plocktis was part of Team BC from 2009 to 2011 with the highlight being a gold medal at the 2011 Western Elite Championship. He also played for Zone 2 at the 2008 BC Summer Games where he led his team to a silver medal.
Playing with the Kelowna Volleyball Club, Plocktis, who has been with the club since 2008, most recently guided his side to a fourth place at the 2011 club provincial championship.
With his high school team, he was also given honourable mention at the 2010 AAA provincial championship and was his team’s MVP. And like Sclater, Plocktis also trained at B.C.’s Centre of Excellence.
“Scott is another great athlete which is the most important attribute an up and coming setter can have,” Josephson said. “He has tremendous body control and coordination which will allow him to make a lot of tough sets thus allowing our offense to operate smoothly even out of system.”
“This past season Scott had to hit for his high school team and was considered one of the top attackers in the province. This well-rounded volleyball skill set will allow Scott to make plays for us in more ways than just setting. He will be an attacking threat at all times and has a great jump serve as well.”
“Scott is an extremely fun guy to be around. He makes training enjoyable, he works hard and he shows a tremendous amount of joy when he plays volleyball. This above all is what it takes to be great in this sport and I believe it will allow him to develop into our next great setter in a long line of Spartan setters.”
“He reminds me a lot of [current Spartans setter] Ben Ball when he was in high school. They have similar builds and size, both are left handed and both possess an uncanny ability to set the ball from odd body positions. With the addition of Scott we now have two of the top young setters [along with Devyn Plett] in the country to move forward with.”
Off the court, Plocktis has a 4.0 GPA and earned his school’s Work Ethic Award in Grade 10 and 11.
“Since the first time I talked to Ben [Josephson] in Grade 10, I have wanted to be a Spartan,” said Plocktis, who plans to study human kinetics. “So I felt extremely blessed when he offered me a spot on the team.”
The Spartans, who are defending CIS national champions, are 10-0 in Canada West league play this year. They will return to the court Jan. 2-3 when they host a pair of non-conference games against Queen’s at the Langley Events Centre. Both games start at 6:00 p.m.
In conference action, Trinity Western’s first weekend of the year will be Jan. 13-14 when they host Alberta at the David E. Enarson Gymnasium on the Trinity Western campus. Game time Friday is at 8:00 p.m. and Saturday at 7:00 p.m.