Canada’s top volleyball conference opens Friday – Team by Team Breakdown

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NEW WESTMINSTER – Coming off Canada West and national championships in 2015-16, expectations are once again high for the Trinity Western Spartans men’s volleyball squad.

The defending champions open their title defence on the road against the Regina Cougars this Friday, as the 2016-17 Canada West regular season begins.

Trinity Western is primed for another big season in the nation’s most competitive conference, but despite being the reigning conference and national champions, the Spartans aren’t the favourites to repeat this season.

The Alberta Golden Bears edged out TWU by the slimmest of margins in the annual pre-season coaches poll, as the Bears – who went 23-1 during the regular season a year ago – earned first in the conference poll released Wednesday with 138 points compared to TWU’s 137-point total.

That in itself shows how tight the race for first should be this season, in addition to the jockeying across the rest of the standings spectrum in a conference that saw five teams win 15 or more regular season games in 2015-16.

With the deepest field of teams of any conference across the country, it’s fitting that four Canada West teams will make their way to the national tournament this March 10-11, as the Bears get set to welcome the event back to Edmonton for the first time since 2009.

There will be no shortage of deserving teams looking to make a trip to nationals, as five Canada West teams open the season inside the U Sports top 10 (No. 1 Alberta, No. 2 TWU, No. 4 Manitoba, No. 5 Calgary, No. 8 Saskatchewan, No. 9 Mount Royal).

For a complete look at each men’s team, check out the team previews below.

Once again this season, viewers will be able to watch every men’s volleyball regular season and playoff game on Canadawest.tv with a conference volleyball pass for only $30 CAD.

2016-17 CW men’s volleyball pre-season coaches poll

Team / Points (first-place votes)

  1. Alberta / 138 (6)
  2. Trinity Western / 137 (6)
  3. Manitoba / 123 (1)
  4. Calgary / 104
  5. Winnipeg / 85
  6. Saskatchewan / 98
  7. UBC / 78
  8. Mount Royal / 70
  9. Brandon / 62
  10. Thompson Rivers / 44
  11. UBCO / 32
  12. MacEwan / 29
  13. Regina / 14

NOTES: 1st-place vote worth 12 pts., 2nd 11 pts, 3rd 10 pts. etc.

TEAM PREVIEWS

UNIVERSITY OF ALBERTA GOLDEN BEARS

2015-16 CW regular season record: 23-1, 1st

2015-16 post-season record: 1-1, 3rd

Last CW championship / total CW championships: 2015 / 14

Last CIS championship / total CIS championships: 2015 / 8

2015 CW regular season ranks:

Points per set: 18.4, 1st

Kills per set: 14.18, 1st

Hitting percentage: 34.5%, 1st

2015 CW regular season leaders:

Kills: 317 – Ryley Barnes, LS

Digs: 161 – Reed May, L

Blocks: 87 – John Goranson, M

Aces: 30 – Alex McMullin, LS

Assists: 9464 – Brett Walsh, S

Key additions (name / position / eligibility / hometown / last team):

Max Elgert / S / 1st / Athabasca, AB / Edwin Parr CHS

Taryq Sani / OH / 1st/ Toronto, ON / St. Michael’s College

Kevin Proudfoot / RS / 5th/ Calgary, AB / Central Memorial HS

Key losses (name / position / hometown / years with program):

John Goranson / Middle / Red Deer, AB / 5

Ryley Barnes / Left Side / St. Paul, AB / 5

Brendan Yao / Libero / Burnaby, BC / 5

Key performer:

Ryan Nickifor

Left Side

5th-year

Sherwood Park, AB

With the loss of three-time Canada West and CIS All-Star hitter Ryley Barnes, the Golden Bears offence’s focal point will shift to fellow all-star left side Ryan Nickifor. Nickifor finished second to Barnes with 307 kills, 359.5 points, and a 0.275 hitting percentage last season, helping the Golden Bears to a 23-1 regular season and matching CW and CIS bronze medals. The 2017 U Sports hosts will also feature fellow fifth-year’s Brett Walsh, Kevin Proudfoot, and Reed May.

BRANDON UNIVERSITY BOBCATS

2015-16 CW regular season record: 7-17, 10th

2015-16 post-season record: DNQ

 

Last CW championship / total CW championships: 2013 / 1

Last CIS championship / total CIS championships: 0

 

2015 CW regular season ranks:

Points per set: 14.9, 10th

Kills per set: 11.49, 10th

Hitting percentage: .197, 11th

 

2015 CW regular season leaders:

Kills: 408 – Roy Ching, LS

Digs: 170 – Roy Ching, LS

Blocks: 67 – Mason Metcalf, M

Aces: 33 – Roy Ching, LS

Assists: 594 – David Stasica, S

 

Key additions (name / position / eligibility / hometown / last team):

Jacob Reid / S / 1 / Calgary, AB / Dr. E.P. Scarlett High School

Elliot Viles / LS / 1 / Adelaide, Australia / Australian National Team

 

Key losses (name / position / hometown / years with program):

David Stasica / Setter / Winnipeg, MB / 5

Bruce Akubukaka / Right Side / Winnipeg, MB / 2

 

Key performer:

Roy Ching

Left Side

5th-year

Nelson, New Zealand

 

It was no secret that Roy Ching shouldered the offense for the Bobcats last season, and it’s no secret that the all-Canadian will be expected to do the same this season. After losing right side Matt Powell to injury early last season, Ching became the focus of the offense for Brandon, getting a school record 1,042 attacks in conference play. The result was equally impressive, as the 6-foot-5 import player led the conference and country in kills (408) and kills per set (4.58), being named a conference all-star and second team All-Canadian for his efforts.

UBC THUNDERBIRDS

2015-16 CW regular season record: 13-11, 8th

2015-16 post-season record: DNQ

Last CW championship / total CW championships: 1984/5

Last CIS championship / total CIS championships: 1983/3

2015 CW regular season ranks:

Points per set: 15.9, 8th

Kills per set: 12.20, 9th

Hitting percentage: .242, 9th

2015 CW regular season leaders:

Kills: 279 – Irvan Brar, OH

Digs: 208 – Irvan Brar, OH

Blocks: 102 – Alex Russell, M

Aces: 23 – Irvan Brar, OH

Assists: 540 – Byron Keturakis, S

Key additions (name / position / eligibility / hometown / last team):

Nick Mickelberry / OH / 1 / Victoria, B.C. / Canadian Youth National Team

Danny Aspenlieder / OH / 1 / Vernon, B.C. / Team BC

Key losses (name / position / hometown / years with program):

Milan Nikic / S / Calgary, Alta. / 5

Alex Russell / M / Surrey, B.C. / 5

Mac McNicol / OH / Calgary, Alta. / 4

Key performer:

Irvan Brar

Outside hitter

4th-year

Surrey, B.C.

Brar led UBC in several major statistical categories last season, including kills (279), aces (23) and points (338). He also had the most digs (208) on the squad during the 2015-16 regular season and tied for most sets played (91).

UBC OKANAGAN HEAT

2015-16 CW regular season record: 4-20, 11th

2015-16 post-season record: DNQ

Last CW championship / total CW championships: 0

Last CIS championship / total CIS championships: 0

2015 CW regular season ranks:

Points per set: 14.2, 11th

Kills per set: 11.29, 11th

Hitting percentage: .212, 10th

2015 CW regular season leaders:

Kills: 289, Lars Bornemann, OH

Digs: 219, Eli Risso, L

Blocks: 69, Leo Schober, M

Aces: 16, Lars Bornemann, OH

Assists: 659, Kristof Schlagintweit, S

Key additions (name / position / eligibility / hometown / last team):

Rhys Flett / OH / 1 / Edmonton, AB / Jasper Place

Luke Harvey / OH / 1 / Cochrane, AB / Team Alberta

Kyle Hinchey / RS / 1 / Edmonton, AB / Jasper Place

Brodie Kern / OH / 1 / West Kelowna, BC / Mt. Boucherie

Key losses (name / position / hometown / years with program):

Jeremy Fostvelt / L / Surrey, BC / 5

Leo Schober / M / Kelowna, BC / 4

Jim Bell / M / Surrey, BC / 4

Kristof Schlagintweit / S / Abbotsford, BC / 4

Kyle Pankratz / OH / Surrey, BC / 3

Key performer:

Alex Swiatlowski

Outside hitter

5th-year

Victoria, BC

The lone fifth-year on this team and with a new coach at the helm, Swiatlowski will look to continue to improve on his offensive game, which was really starting to take off last season before injuries cut short his fourth-year season. He will be paired with Lars Bornemann on the outside, as these two veterans look to score points for UBCO on the court, and more importantly, teach this new young roster what it means to compete week in and week out in the Canada West conference.

UNIVERSITY OF CALGARY DINOS

2015-16 CW regular season record: 18-6, 3rd

2015-16 post-season record: 1-2, lost in QF

Last CW championship / total CW championships: 2011 / 9

Last CIS championship / total CIS championships: 2010 / 4

2015 CW regular season ranks:

Points per set: 16.3, 3rd

Kills per set: 12.58, 3rd

Hitting percentage: 0.248, 7th

2015 CW regular season leaders:

Kills: 412 – Curtis Stockton, OH

Digs: 213 – Derek Meeuwisse, L

Blocks: 75 – Alex Cook, S/M

Aces: 34 – Keith West, OH

Assists: 871 – Jackson Maris, S

Key additions (name / position / eligibility / hometown / last team):

Brett Bolin / M / 4 / Calgary, AB / SAIT

Tim Taylor / OH / 2 / Sydney, AUS / Lethbridge College

Key losses:

Jackson Maris / S / Edson, AB / 4

Connor Frehlich / OH / Calgary, AB / 5

Key performers:

Alex Cook / S / 5 / Chestermere, AB

Keith West / OH / 4 / Lethbridge, AB

Curtis Stockton / OH / 5 / Melbourne, AUS

All three of these veteran players will be key on offence. Alex Cook shifts back to setter after playing middle last year. On the attack, West and Stockton will be looked upon to generate offence and provide leadership throughout the season.

MACEWAN UNIVERSITY GRIFFINS

2015-16 CW regular season record: 3-21, 12th

2015-16 post-season record: DNQ

Last CW championship / total CW championships: 0

Last CIS championship / total CIS championships: 0

2015 CW regular season ranks:

Points per set: 13.6, 12th

Kills per set: 10.76, 12th

Hitting percentage: .176, 12th

2015 CW regular season leaders:

Kills: 241, Ryan McDonald, OH

Digs: 179, Matt Mohler, S

Blocks: 14, Max Vriend, M

Aces: 15, Max Vriend, M

Assists: 802, Matt Mohler, S

Key additions:

Jordan Peters / LS / 1 / Edmonton, AB / NAVC

Josh Peters / S / 5 / Edmonton, AB / King’s University College

Andre Arsenault / L / 3 / Edmonton, AB / Medicine Hat College

Kornel Kowalewski / M / 4 / Poland / Keyano College

 

Key losses:

None

 

Key performers:

Ryan McDonald, LS, 5th-year, Westlock, AB

Max Vriend, M, 2nd-year, Barrhead, AB

 

McDonald, entering his fifth year of eligibility, is coming off a huge season where he led the Griffins in kills with 241 and was named Team MVP. Vriend, a Canada West and CIS All-Rookie team member last season, started every match for the Griffins as a freshman and will be counted on heavily again. He is now a member of the Canadian Junior National Team.

UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA BISONS

2015-16 CW regular season record: 19-5, 2nd

2015-16 post-season record: 2-2, 4th

Last CW championship / total CW championships: 2003 / 1

Last CIS championship / total CIS championships: 2003 / 10

2015-16 CW regular season ranks:

Points per set: 16.8, 2nd

Kills per set: 13.35, 2nd

Hitting percentage: .316, 2nd

2015-16 CW regular season leaders:

Kills: 349 – Devren Dear, RS

Digs: 156 – Luke Herr, S

Blocks: 88 – Ken Rooney, M

Aces: 20 – Luke Herr, S

Assists: 988 – Luke Herr, S

Key additions (name / position / eligibility / hometown / last team):

Evan Jackson / LS / 4 / Winnipeg, MB / Bisons Volleyball

Caleb Konrad / S / 4 / Abbotsford, BC / Douglas College

Key losses (name / position / hometown / years with program):

None

Key performer:

Ken Rooney

Middle

5th-year

Winnipeg, MB

It’s the last ride for Bison fifth-year middle hitter Ken Rooney.

He has been the pillar of the program over the last five years and looks to end his Bison journey with a national championship.

Rooney enters his final year with the Bisons after being selected as a team captain for a fourth consecutive season. His vast leadership presence is felt throughout the Bison program since he arrived in his rookie season.

In addition, he has had numerous accolades from his court skills. Rooney was named as 2015-16 Canada West men’s volleyball Second Team All-Star along with being a 2014-15 CIS men’s volleyball Second Team All-Canadian and 2014-15 Canada West men’s volleyball First Team All-Star plus earning 2012-13 Canada West Rookie of the Year plus CIS All-Rookie Team in year one.

Rooney earned his second conference selection (First Team All-Star in 2014-15) in his fourth season at Manitoba. In the 2015-16 season with the Bisons, the Winnipeg native was seventh in Canada West total blocks at 1.02 per set (88 blocks/86 sets) plus finished 19th in conference points (third on team) at 225.0 points while 20th in Canada West kills (third on the team) at 168. The 6’8”, 220 lbs. student-athlete started and played in 23 of 24 conference matches and only missed three sets of the 89 overall Canada West sets played by the Bisons in 2015-16.

MOUNT ROYAL UNIVERSITY COUGARS

2015-16 CW regular season record: 13-11, 7th

2015-16 post-season record: 0-2, lost in QF

Last CW championship / total CW championships: 0

Last CIS championship / total CIS championships: 0

2015 CW regular season ranks:

Points per set: 16.3, 4th

Kills per set: 12.6, 5th

Hitting percentage: .270%, 6th

2015 CW regular season leaders:

Kills: 332 – Tyler Schmidt, OH

Digs: 156 – Jonathan Phillips, LB

Blocks: 80 – Tyler Schmidt, OH

Aces: 24 – Tyler Schmidt, OH

Assists: 547 – Tanner Greves, S

Key additions:

Riley Friesen / OH / 4 / Calgary, Alta. / Red Deer College

Scott Gieske / MB / 3 / Magrath, Alta. / Lethbridge College

Ted Glass / LB / 1 / Winnipeg, Man. / 204 Volleyball Club

Nick Lightfoot / OH / 3 / Richmond, BC / Douglas College

Ty Moline / MB / 1 / Lethbridge, Alta. / Chinook High School

Brennen Willis / MB / 1 / Cochrane, Alta. / Canuck Dinos

Key losses:

Grigor Kartev / MH / Calais, FRA / 5
Lucas King / MH / Winnipeg, Man. / 5

Andrew McWilliam / OH / Dutton, Ont. / 1
Jordan Parkin / OH / Calgary, Alta. / 5
Mike Wickstrom / OH / Sherwood Park, Alta. / 3

Key performer:

Tyler Schmidt

Outside Hitter

3rd-year

Calgary, Alta.

The 2014-15 Canada West Rookie of the Year showed no signs of a sophomore slump in 2015-16. Schmidt led the Cougars in points per set (4.6), kills per set (3.86), blocks (80) and service aces (24). He also ranked in the top 10 in Canada West in points per set (6th), kills per set (7th) and blocks (9th) in just his second season.

UNIVERSITY OF REGINA COUGARS

2015-16 CW regular season record: 2-22, 13th

2015-16 post-season record: DNQ

Last CW championship / total CW championships: 0

Last CIS championship / total CIS championships: 0

2015 CW regular season ranks:

Points per set: 12.9, 13th

Kills per set: 10.41, 13th

Hitting percentage: .133, 13th

2015 CW regular season leaders:

Kills: 178 – Andre Borgeaud, OH

Digs: 238 – Jacques Borgeaud, L

Blocks: 60 – Bronson Busch, MB

Aces: 14 – Andre Borgeaud, OH

Assists: 435 – Dalton Wolfe, S

Key additions (name / position / eligibility / hometown / last team):

Matthew Aubrey / RS / 1st / Brisbane, Australia / University of Southern Queensland

Conal McAinsh / MB / 1st / Adelaide, Australia / University of Canberra

Eric Robb / MB / 1st / Winnipeg, Man. / Vincent Massey Collegiate

Dylan Smith / L / 4th / Grovedale, Alta. / Grande Prairie College

Taylor Towle / OH / 4th / Medicine Hat, Alta. / Medicine Hat College

Key losses (name / position / hometown / years with program):

Andre Borgeaud / OH / Brisbane, Australia / 5

Jacques Borgeaud / L / Brisbane, Australia / 5

Bronson Busch / MB / Calgary, Alta. / 1

Carter Howe / OH / Mossbank, Sask. / 3

Matthew Lueck / OH / Regina, Sask. / 5

Brad Millers / MB / Calliope, Australia / 3

Joshua Nickel / RS / Edmonton, Alta. / 1

Key performer:

Michael Corrigan

Setter

3rd-year

Winnipeg, MB

Now the most experienced returning player along with Dalton Wolfe, third-year player Michael Corrigan is expected to take control of the Regina offence as the team’s primary setter. Corrigan and Wolfe split the setting duties over the last two seasons, but Wolfe will now move to outside hitter. Corrigan has played in all 48 matches since coming to the U of R, collecting 360 assists in his first season and 293 assists last year. He has career totals of 653 assists, 156 digs, 32 kills, 28 blocks, and 13 aces as he heads into his third season of CIS eligibility.

UNIVERSITY OF SASKATCHEWAN HUSKIES

2015-16 CW regular season record: 15-9, 5th

2015-16 post-season record: 4-4, 2nd Canada West, 4th CIS

Last CW championship / total CW championships: 2004 / 10

Last CIS championship / total CIS championships: 2004 / 4

2015 CW regular season ranks:

Points per set: 16, 6th

Kills per set: 12.34, 8th

Hitting percentage: .279, 4th

2015 CW regular season leaders:

Kills: 328 – Jordan Nowakowski, LS

Digs: 137 – Jordan Nowakowski, LS

Blocks: 97 – Robert Graham, M

Aces: 28 – Jordan Nowakowski, LS

Assists: 694 – CJ Gavlas, S

Key additions (name / position / eligibility / hometown / last team):

Derek Epp / S / 1 / Saskatoon, SK / Canadian Junior Team

Connor Murray / LS / 1 / Prince Albert, SK / Team Saskatchewan
Evan Parchomchuk / LS / 1 / Prince Albert, SK / Team Saskatchewan

Key losses (name / position / hometown / years with program):

Jordan Nowakowski / LS / Rama, SK / 5

Robert Graham / MB / Saskatoon, SK / 5

Matthew Erickson / Libero / Saskatoon, SK / 4

CJ Gavlas / Setter / Saskatoon, SK / 1

Key performer:

Tyler Epp

Middle Blocker

5th-year

Saskatoon, SK

One of two returning starters, Tyler Epp will look to guide the Huskies’ offensive attack from the middle. Playing in his final year of eligibility, the 6-7 Kinesiology student has 471 career kills and 257 career blocks in Canada West action. His blocks total sits him fifth on program’s all-time list. He has helped guide the Huskies to a 5th (2014-15) and 4th (2015-16) finish at CIS Championships.

THOMPSON RIVERS UNIVERSITY WOLFPACK

2015-16 CW regular season record: 10-14, 9th

2015-16 post-season record: DNQ

Last CW championship / total CW championships: 0

Last CIS championship / total CIS championships: 0

2015 CW regular season ranks:

Points per set: 16, 7th

Kills per set: 12.66, 4th

Hitting percentage:  .247, 8th

2015 CW regular season leaders:

Kills: 384 – Brad Gunter, OH

Digs: 190 – Brad Gunter, OH

Blocks: 71 – Sam Taylor Parks, M

Aces: 35 – Brad Gunter, OH

Assists: 858 – Graham Stoliker, S

Key additions (name / position / eligibility / hometown / last team):

Jakob Hamilton / S / Calgary, AB / William Aberhart High/Canuck Volleyball

Anton Napolitano / OH / Melbourne, Australia / Kew High School/Melbourne University

Sam Hanon / OH / Leuvin, Belguim / Campus Redingenhof high school/Lizards Lubbeek-Leuven

Key losses (name / position / hometown / years with program):

Brad Gunter / OH / Courtenay, BC / 5

Brandon Hewwing / OH & M / Calgary, AB / 3

Graham Stoliker / S / Surrey, BC / 4

Key performer:

Daniel Eikland Rod

Outside Hitter/Middle

5th-year

Oz, Norway

With the graduation of all-time CIS and Canada West kills and points leader Brad Gunter (now playing pro in Estonia), it’s Daniels turn to lead the way. He has the capability of being one of the top servers and kills leaders in the Canada West this year.

The WolfPack will have the youngest coaching staff in the CIS this year. Pat Hennelly is taking a year off to work on his Masters Degree.  Former players Mike Hawkins and Matt Krueger will be handling the team. Hawkins coached last year in the ACAC with Lethbridge College.

TRINITIY WESTERN UNIVERSITY SPARTANS

2015-16 CW regular season record: 14-10, 7th

2015-16 post-season record: 4-1, 1st

Last CW championship / total CW championships: 2016 / 3

Last CIS championship / total CIS championships: 2016 / 4

2015 CW regular season ranks:

Points per set: 16.3, 3rd

Kills per set: 12.41, 7th

Hitting percentage: .286, 3rd

2015 CW regular season leaders:

Kills: 4.07/set – Ryan Sclater, LS

Digs: 2.66 – Tyler Koslowsky, L

Blocks: 1.30 – Aaron Boettcher, M

Aces: 0.30 – Blake Scheerhoorn, LS

Assists: 9.04 – Devyn Plett, S

Key additions (name / position / eligibility / hometown / last team):

Eric Loeppky / OH / 1 / Steinbach, Man. / Steinbach Regional

Kaden Gamache / OH / Abbotsford, B.C. / MEI

Maddux Greves / S / Calgary / William Aberhart

Key losses (name / position / hometown / years with program):

Tyler Koslowsky / Libero / Abbotsford, B.C. / 5

Key performer:

Ryan Sclater

Left Side

5th-year

Port Coquitlam, B.C.

In his final year as a Spartan, Sclater will once again be a key cog on the left side for the defending national champions. Last year, Sclater was fourth in the conference with 4.07 kills per set and was a Canada West Second Team All-Star. In the playoffs, he bettered those numbers, as he led the Spartans to a conference title while averaging 4.61 kills per set. The cerebral fifth-year star will carry the load on the outside and look for the Spartans to lean on him, especially early on as they await the return of injured fourth-year outside Blake Scheerhoorn.

UNIVERSITY OF WINNIPEG WESMEN

2015-16 CW regular season record: 15-9, 4th

2015-16 post-season record: 1-2, lost in QF

Last CW championship / total CW championships: 0

Last CIS championship / total CIS championships: 2007 / 7

2015 CW regular season ranks:

Points per set: 15.9 – 9th

Kills per set: 12.7 – 3rd

Hitting percentage: 272 – 5th

2015 CW regular season leaders:

Kills: 347 – David Bommersbach, OH

Digs: 186 – Josh McKay, S

Blocks: 83 – Brendan Black, M

Aces: 28 – Josh McKay, S

Assists: 875 – Josh McKay, S

Key additions (name / position / eligibility / hometown / last team):
Daniel Thiessen / O / 1st, Winnipeg, MB / Glenlawn Collegiate
Martial Rondeau / 1st / Winnipeg, MB / College Jeanne Sauve
Ethan Duncan / OH / 1st / Winnipeg, MB / Westwood Collegiate
Keegan Teetaert / 1st / Steinbach, MB / Steinbach Regional Secondary

Key losses (name / position / hometown / years with program):
Brendan Black / M / Winnipeg, MB / 4
Dustin Ross / OH / Winnipeg, MB / 5
Josh McKay / S / Winnipeg, MB / 5

Key performer:

David Bommersbach

Outside hitter

4th-year

Winnipeg, MB

Fourth-year outside hitter David Bommersbach returns after a solid 2015-16 season when he was named to the Canada West Men’s Volleyball Second All-Star team. Bommersbach led the Wesmen in kills last year with 347 and once again will be one of the go-to guys on the team this coming season.

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