Men’s volleyball signs two local left sides

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Mark Janzen, Assistant Sports Information Director

December 18, 2013, LANGLEY, British Columbia (ISN) – The Trinity Western men’s volleyball team bolstered its stock on the left side for years to come as coach Ben Josephson officially announced the signing of Ben Lieuwen (Abbotsford, B.C.) and Braden Heppell (Langley) Wednesday.

Lieuwen and Heppell join already signed middle Aaron Boettcher (Surrey, B.C.) to round out an impressive trio of local athletes who will come to TWU next fall. All three TWU recruits were recently ranked amongst the Top 15 graduating boys volleyball players in B.C. by a CIS coaches poll conducted by The Province newspaper. Boettcher was ranked No. 2, Lieuwen No. 4 and Heppell No. 8.

“With these two outside hitters added to our mix, the future cycle of our program is taking shape,” Josephson said. “Along with Aaron and last year’s recruiting class, we’ve amassed a great deal of talent to support our veteran starting group. I’m very excited to see this young cycle develop as they wait their turn to continue our great tradition of Spartans men’s volleyball.”

Ben Lieuwen

Lieuwen, who will graduate in 2014, will take the path of many former Spartans men’s volleyball players, as well as current TWU libero Tyler Koslowsky, and come to the Langley campus via MEI.

The 6-foot-2 Lieuwen is coming off a 2013 season in which he helped MEI to a bronze medal at the B.C. provincial “AA” high school championship and was named a tournament First Team All-Star for the third year in a row.

In 2012, he helped MEI to a bronze medal at provincials, while in 2011, he was part of an MEI side that won the provincial title.

“Ben brings a tremendous amount of talent, success and leadership to our group,” Josephson said. “His teams’ levels of success is another element that cannot go underestimated. Already a national champion and provincial champion, his experience in those types of matches is something we are excited to add into our mix. Ben’s leadership and motor are two intangibles that will be tremendous assets for our team. He has a great ability to inspire others to play up to their potential and his example as a true competitor is something to be admired and imitated by all.

“Ben also brings some great tangible skills to our team as he has an explosive arm and great ground skills. We look for Ben to be one of our primary controlling players for years to come.”

Lieuwen has also taken the well-trodden club route to TWU, having played with the Fraser Valley Volleyball Club since 2008. In 2012, with FVVC’s 16U team, he won the national championship and was named the MVP of the national tournament.

“TWU has been my dream school ever since I first saw the Spartans play,” said Lieuwen. “It’s a great school with a great culture and I’m excited to be a part of it.”

Braden Heppell

The 6-foot-5 Heppell will join his brother Tyler, who is currently in his second year with the Spartans, as the siblings will bring another family combo from Langley Christian, following in the footsteps of the Jansen Van Doorn clan.

Heppell most recently helped Langley Christian to a silver medal at the B.C. “AA” high school provincial championship, where he was named a tournament First Team All-Star.

Last year, in 2012, Heppell’s Langley Christian side won the provincial title and he was also named a First Team All-Star.

At the club level, Heppell has played with FVVC since U13 and, like Lieuwen, was on the U16 team that won the national championship in 2012, where he was named a tournament all-star.

Heppell has also played with Team BC for two years and, in 2013, won the Western Elite Championship.

“Braden is everything you want in a teammate,” Josephson said. “He is caring, compassionate, trains extremely hard and competes even harder. Braden has been a part of many successful teams including a national and provincial championship team and a Western Elite Championship last summer with Team BC.

“Those experiences are very valuable to our group and once an athlete has seen what it takes to be successful there is no question they will have the ability to replicate that. Braden has a very high motor and a great arm. He joins fellow ‘AA’ provincial champion teammates Mike Grypma (Langley) and Mark Antoniuk (Langley) on our team and follows in the Langley Christian tradition at TWU.”

Heppell, who plans to study business, said: “I have always wanted to go to TWU ever since I started playing volleyball. Watching the Spartans games from a young age I knew I wanted to be a part of their legacy. With a renowned business program, the school’s faith and one of the best volleyball programs in the CIS, I knew that TWU was the right place for me. All combined with the fact that it is close to home, and that I will be joining my brother on the team, I knew that it was a perfect fit for me.”

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