(HALIFAX, N.S.) – Atlantic University Sport is pleased to announce the 2016-17 AUS men’s volleyball all-stars and major award winners as selected by the conference’s three head coaches following regular season play.

The awards were handed out at UNB tonight, following Game 2 of the Subway AUS Men’s Volleyball Championship best-of-three series.

The UNB Varsity Reds completed a two-game sweep of the Tigers to claim the 2017 championship title.

For the first time in his AUS career, fifth-year Dalhousie Tigers outside hitter Kristen O’Brien was named the Atlantic University Sport most valuable player.

Other AUS major award winners announced today were UNB’s Connor McConnell of Hanwell, N.B., who was named rookie of the year; Memorial’s Liam Power of Lower Sackville, N.S., who received the student-athlete community service award and Dalhousie head coach Dan Ota, who was named the AUS men’s volleyball coach of the year.

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Kristen O’Brien, Dalhousie Tigers

The 2016-17 AUS men’s volleyball most valuable player is Kristen O’Brien from the Dalhousie Tigers.

Kristen O’Brien
Kristen O’Brien

A fifth-year outside hitter from Truro, N.S., O’Brien led the Tigers to an 11-6 regular season record this year, clinching first place in the conference standings.


The six-foot-five kinesiology student accumulated 254.5 total points this season while averaging

4.0 points per set. He averaged 3.22 kills per set, earning a total of 203 kills all season with a

.286 hitting percentage.


O’Brien also had 67 blocks, averaging 1.06 per set, and added 97 digs this season.


“Kristen has been our leader on and off the court all season,” said Tigers head coach Dan Ota. “He’s really stepped up his performance on the court and had his best season statistically and has consistently been our best player in most of our matches.


“Off the court, I’ve challenged him to be a better leader and he has really delivered on that front as well. We have a lot of young players this season and the significant growth of our team since September is due in large part to Kristen’s contributions. Kristen has embraced all the challenges in front of him and has made his biggest impact in his final season with our program.”

In addition to taking home MVP honours, O’Brien was also named to the AUS all-star team for the third-consecutive season.

He now looks to become the first Atlantic conference player to be named U Sports player of the year.

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Connor McConnell, UNB Varsity Reds

Connor McConnell, a first-year outside hitter for the UNB Varsity Reds, is the 2016-17 AUS men’s volleyball rookie of the year.

The business student from Hanwell, N.B., appeared in 13 games and 40 sets for the Varsity Reds this season.

McConnell finished the season with 1.80 kills per set, 1.20 digs per set and 2.3 blocks per set.

His stats also included 29 total blocks on the season.

Connor McConnell Rob Blanchard Photo UNB
Connor McConnell Rob Blanchard Photo UNB

“In only his first year in the league, Connor played in well over half of our matches and has made a significant contribution to our team, being amongst the AUS leaders in kills per set, blocks per set, and points per set,” said UNB head coach Dan McMorran. “He is a player with both great offensive and defensive potential and will be an exciting athlete to watch in the coming seasons.”

McConnell now becomes the AUS nominee for U Sports rookie of the year. The only Atlantic conference player to ever earn the national honour is Dalhousie’s Terry Martin who won it in 1994-95.

COACH OF THE YEAR: Dan Ota, Dalhousie

Dan Ota
Dan Ota

Dan Ota, in his 18th season at the helm of the Tigers program, has been named the AUS coach of the year for the 15th time.

This is his sixth consecutive year taking home the honour.

This season, Ota guided the Tigers to a first-place finish in the Atlantic conference standings with an 11-6 record. He has compiled a career regular season record of 248-51.

Dalhousie has won 33 of the past 37 AUS titles and 14 of the past 17 under Ota’s leadership.

A native of Calgary, Alta., Coach Ota is a former executive director of Volleyball Nova Scotia, a former technical director for Alberta Volleyball and was a member of the Team Canada coaching staff at the 2007 Summer Universiade in Bangkok, Thailand that captured a silver medal.

He holds a bachelor of arts and a Master of Kinesiology from the University of Calgary and is a certified NCCP Level 3 coach as well as a Master Learning Facilitator.

“Dan continues to set a very high bar for our volleyball program,” said Dalhousie athletics director Tim Maloney. “The time, effort and thought he invests in his student-athletes is something we value incredibly at Dalhousie. We are fortunate to have a coach of Dan’s calibre on our coaching roster.”

Ota now becomes the AUS nominee for U Sports coach of the year. The last Atlantic conference head coach to earn the honour was UNB’s Dan McMorran following the 2010-11 season.


Liam Power
Liam Power

The 2016-17 recipient of the AUS student-athlete community service award and nominee for the U Sports Dale Iwanoczko award is Liam Power of the Memorial Sea-Hawks.

The nominee for this award is a player exhibiting outstanding achievement in volleyball, academics and community involvement.

A fifth-year outside hitter from Lower Sackville, N.S., Power is an academic all-Canadian. A behavioural neuroscience student, he is on the Dean’s List and set to graduate in the spring.

On the court, Power accumulated 175 kills, 14 aces, 81 digs and 28 total blocks this season.

He finished fourth in the conference in kills per set, third in aces per set, 12th in digs per set and 11th in blocks per set.

In addition to being a team captain, Power is a leader with SAMHI (the Student-Athlete Mental Health Initative) and is a part of the committee that organizes SAMHI events.

“Liam embodies exactly what you want every 17-year-old recruit to grow into,” said Sea-Hawks head coach Cisco Farrero “He is a strong, dedicated student with a bright future ahead of him; he is a player that embraces challenges and always looking to improve his game; he leads our team by example and emotion on and off the court; and finally he is a great leader in our athletics community here at Memorial University and I am very proud of him.”

Power is just the second player from the Sea-Hawks to win the honour and the first since 2001-02 when Brad Piercey earned the award for Memorial.

The U Sports Dale Iwanoczko award has been awarded to a number of AUS men’s volleyball athletes in recent years. UNB’s Jacob Kilpatrick (2010-11), Dalhousie’s Nik Rademacher (2007-08), Jeff Weiler (2005-06), Chris Geddes (2002-03) and Paul Villeneuve (1993-94) are all previous recipients of the prestigious CIS award.


Members of the 2016-17 Atlantic University Sport men’s volleyball all-star team, as selected by the three head coaches, are as follows:

All-Star Team:

Kristen O’Brien, Dalhousie (5th year – Truro, N.S.)

Eivind, Andersen, UNB (5th year – Sardnes, Norway)

Tristen Burridge, UNB (5th year – Fort St. John, B.C.)

Matthew Donovan, Dalhousie (4th year – London, Ont.)
Adam Sandeson, Dalhousie (4th year – Lower Truro, N.S.)

Matthew Woods, Dalhousie (2nd year – Halifax, N.S.)

Samuel Alves, UNB (5th year – Melbourne, Australia)

The 2017 Subway Atlantic University Sport men’s volleyball championship was a best-of-three series between the Dalhousie Tigers (11-6) and UNB Varsity Reds (9-8). UNB swept Dalhousie in two games.

The Varsity Reds now advance to the U Sports FOG Men’s Volleyball Championship being hosted by the University of Alberta in Edmonton, March 17-19.