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by Michel Bélanger

cisFebruary 26, 2014, CALGARY (ISN) – Brad Gunter, a third-year right side hitter from Thompson Rivers University, was named CIS player of the year in men’s volleyball, Wednesday morning.

Gunter, who hails from Courtenay, B.C., became the first member of the WolfPack to claim MVP honours since TRU joined CIS in 2005-06.

Other major award recipients announced during the All-Canadian Breakfast held at the Best Western Village Park Inn in Calgary were Trinity Western setter Adam Schriemer, who was voted CIS rookie of the year; Waterloo’s Erich Woolley, who was named the nation’s top libero; Thompson Rivers setter Colin Carson, who received the Dale Iwanoczko Award for his excellence in volleyball, academics and community service; as well as Trinity Western head coach Ben Josephson, who was honoured by his peers for the second time in three seasons.

The 2014 CIS championship gets under way Thursday at the University of Calgary’s Jack Simpson Gymnasium. All 11 matches from the eight-team competition will be webcast live in HD on www.CIS-SIC.tv, including the Tantramar Trophy final Saturday at 6 p.m. Mountain Time.

CHAMPIONSHIP WEBSITE: http://english.cis-sic.ca/championships/mvball/index

PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Brad Gunter, Thompson Rivers

In only his third university season, Gunter not only established himself as one of the best offensive weapons in the country, he also etched his name in the Canada West record books in a number of statistical categories.

In 18 league matches, the 6-foot-6 science student led CIS in kills (5.31) and points (6.04) per set as well as total points (404.5), while placing second in total kills (356). His kill-per-set average is a new single-season Canada West mark, while his point-per-game average ranks second all-time in the conference.

Gunter, who was named to the CIS all-rookie team in 2011-12 and started for the junior national squad last summer, also ranked fifth in CIS in both total attacks (742) and service aces (27) this season.

Thanks in large part to his stellar play, Thompson Rivers finished fourth in the league standings with a 13-9 record and reached the best national ranking in program history in mid-January (No. 4). 

“Brad was our security blanket this season. He had a phenomenal year, above expectations for all of us. His hard work and dedication has paid off,” said TRU head coach Pat Hennelly. “It is great for Brad to be named MVP. It is an ongoing improvement process for him and I think the ceiling is still higher.”

The other nominees for MVP honours were UNB outside hitter Julio Fernandez, Laval right side Tommy Bélisle and McMaster outside Jori Mantha.

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Adam Schriemer, Trinity Western

A native of Winnipeg, Schriemer is only the second Trinity Western player to be named CIS rookie of the year. Chris Meehan merited the trophy back in 2001-02.

In his university debut, the 6-foot-7 setter not only quarterbacked the Spartans to a league-leading and program-best 20-win regular season (20-2), he also helped the TWU offence maintain the best hitting percentage in Canada West (.313) and the second highest in the country.

After splitting setting duties with Scott Plocktis for the first few weeks of the year, Schriemer took over the reins on the final weekend of the fall semester and hasn’t looked back. He helped the Spartans to an 11-1 record the rest of the way while averaging 9.35 assists per set. Over the course of the entire regular schedule, including 18 starts, the Freshman Academy student averaged 8.61 assists per game.

“Adam’s season is arguably the best freshman setting season in Canada West history,” said Spartans coach Ben Josephson. “He helped guide our team to a conference best in wins and attack efficiency, which are the two most relevant statistics in judging a setter. He still has a long way to go, but to have as much poise and understanding of the position at his age is a rare quality. We are so very excited to continue to work toward him becoming a truly elite setter.”

Dalhousie middle Matthew Donovan, Laval setter Marc-André Morency and Ryerson setter Adam Anagnostopoulos were also in the running for top-rookie honours.

LIBERO OF THE YEAR: Erich Woolley, Waterloo

The OUA nominee for the second straight season, Woolley became the first player from the conference to be named CIS libero of the year since the inception of the award in 2003-04.

The third-year English major from New Dundee, Ont., had a remarkable sophomore campaign a year ago and he only improved upon his numbers this season. Despite missing three matches during the 20-game league schedule, the 6-foot-2 junior led CIS with 227 total digs, while his dig-per-set average (3.29) ranked second in the country. Both numbers were the best in the OUA in the past five years.

His strong defensive play helped the Warriors to a 16-4 mark, good for third place in the conference standings.

“Erich has been the backbone of our team the past three seasons and his defensive talents are a special thing to watch,” commented Waterloo head coach Chris Lawson. “He has the ability to make game changing plays and was by far the most consistent libero across the country this season.”

The other finalists were UNB’s Chase McFarland, Laval’s Vincent Thibault-Bernier and Mount Royal’s Jordan Or.

COACH OF THE YEAR: Ben Josephson, Trinity Western

Josephson was also voted CIS coach of the year two years ago. Before him, former Trinity Western bench boss Ron Pike was honoured in 2004-05.

In his seventh campaign at the helm, Josephson led the Spartans to their first 20-win regular season, guiding TWU to a 20-2 league record, including a perfect 11-0 mark on home court. In doing so, he helped his troops finish atop the Canada West standings for the second time in three years.

During the regular schedule, Trinity Western was the best blocking team in the country (3.07 per set) and ranked second in CIS in both hitting percentage (.313) and points per set (17.2).

Since taking over head coaching duties in 2007, Josephson has guided the Spartans to four CIS championship appearances before this year, winning gold in 2011 and 2012 and silver in 2010. His team has also captured one Canada West title under his leadership (2012).

“It’s a great honour for Ben to be selected by his peers for this prestigious award,” said TWU athletic director Murray Hall. “Ben is a student of the game and has set the standard for coaching excellence at TWU in a number of areas under our Complete Champion Approach™. Ben is an innovator and has built an expert-based staff around him. He recruits the very best student-athletes who fit the high performance and high character culture he demands. His team not only excels on the volleyball court but, at the same time, he has a group that is always learning more and more about what it takes to be contributing and serving local and global citizens.”

Dalhousie’s Dan Ota, Laval’s Pascal Clément and Waterloo’s Chris Lawson were the other nominees. 

DALE IWANOCZKO AWARD (volleyball, academics & community service): Colin Carson, Thompson Rivers

Carson, a business student from Prince George, B.C., is the first member of the WolfPack to receive the prestigious Iwanoczko Award.

In his fifth and final campaign at Thompson Rivers, the 6-foot-3 senior was named a second-team conference all-star after he led the country in both assists per set (10.93) and total assists (929) in league play, the latter being a new single-season Canada West record. With 3,350 assists over five years, the former junior national team member finished second on the conference career list.

Off the court, Carson, who is set to graduate in April, coordinated the team’s community events, including Raise a Reader - the WolfPack team was the top money generator for Children’s literacy programs in Kamloops for a third straight year - and Wendy’s Dreamlift. He is on the WolfPack’s “Captain’s Council”, will act as MC and coordinator of the TRU Athletic Awards banquet for the second straight year, and also visited elementary schools for Terry Fox Runs.

Carson took the ‘adopt a school’ program to a new level by visiting Pacific Way Elementary at least once a week. He also helped with the PACE program, which is designed to help student-athletes cope with school and sports. In the summer, he returned to his hometown of Prince George to help with volleyball clinics.

“We have an expectation for guys to put in 20 hours of volunteer service outside of what we ask them to do as a member of our team,” said WolfPack coach Pat Hennelly. “Colin has gone beyond that. He epitomizes what this award is all about. I am thrilled for him. He is very deserving and is a great representative of the league, our team, the city and Thompson Rivers University.”

The other finalists for the Iwanoczko Award were UNB’s Logan Keoughan, Laval’s Olivier Jannini and York’s Gregory Ivan.

ALL-CANADIAN TEAMS

The all-Canadian teams were also announced on Wednesday.

Joining Gunter on the first unit were UNB outside hitter Julio Fernandez, Laval right side Tommy Bélisle and McMaster outside Jori Mantha, all players of the year in their respective conference, as well as Trinity Western middle Lucas Van Berkel, Western outside Garrett May and UBC outside Ben Chow.

Fernandez and May both became three-time all-Canadians as they return from last year’s first squad and were members of the second team two seasons ago. May was also the CIS rookie of the year in 2010-11.

The second CIS all-star team for this year is comprised of setters Austin Campion-Smith of McMaster, Jonathan MacDonald of Dalhousie and Milan Nikic of UBC, outside hitters Ray Szeto of York and Nick Del Bianco of Trinity Western, as well as Alberta left side Ryley Barnes and Montreal middle Samuel Landry.

Szeto, Del Bianco and Campion-Smith are honoured for the second year in a row. The first two made the first team in 2013, while the latter was voted to the second unit.

Joining Schriemer as CIS all-freshmen this season are fellow setters Adam Anagnostopoulos of Ryerson and Marc-André Morency of Laval, outside hitters Adam deJonckheere of Manitoba and Nicolas Pirnat of York, along with middles Matthew Donovan of Dalhousie and Mikaël Dagenais of Montreal.

2013-2014 CIS MEN'S VOLLEYBALL AWARDS & ALL-CANADIANS

Player of the year: Brad Gunter, Thompson Rivers

Rookie of the year: Adam Schriemer, Trinity Western

Libero of the year: Erich Woolley, Waterloo

Coach of the year: Ben Josephson, Trinity Western

Dale Iwanoczko Award (volleyball, academics & community service): Colin Carson, Thompson Rivers

First Team
Pos.     Athlete                                    University       Year    Hometown                  Faculty

RS        Brad Gunter                         Thompson Rivers  3       Courtenay, B.C.           Science

OH       Jori Mantha                            McMaster         4          Vanier, Ont.                 Sociology

M         Lucas Van Berkel                    TWU                5          Edmonton, Alta.          Human Kinetics

RS        Tommy Bélisle                       Laval               3          Pierreville, Que.           Biology

OH       Garrett May                            Western           4          Toronto, Ont.               Social Sciences

OH       Ben Chow                              UBC                3          Surrey, B.C.                 Kinesiology

OH       Julio Fernandez                       UNB                5          Los Teques, Venezuela     Business Admin.         

Second Team

OH       Ray Szeto                              York               4          Sutton, Ont.                 Health & Society

LS        Ryley Barnes                         Alberta            3          St. Paul, Alta.               PE & Recreation

OH       Nick Del Bianco                      TWU                4          Langley, B.C.               S&L Management

S          Austin Campion-Smith            McMaster         4          Bowmanville, Ont.       Geography

M         Samuel Landry                        Montreal          3          St. Alexandre, Que.     Physical Education

S          Jonathan MacDonald               Dalhousie        3          Halifax, N.S.                Management

S          Milan Nikic                              UBC                3          Calgary, Alta.               Arts

All-Rookie Team

S          Adam Schriemer                     TWU                1          Winnipeg, Man.          Freshman Academy

S          Adam Anagnostopoulos           Ryerson           1          Waterloo, Ont.           Creative Industries

OH       Adam deJonckheere                Manitoba         1          Winnipeg, Man.           University 1

S          Marc-André Morency              Laval               1          Longueuil, Que.           Open Studies

M         Matthew Donovan                   Dalhousie        1          London, Ont.               Science

OH       Nicolas Pirnat                         York                1          Crysler, Ont.               Liberal Arts

M         Mikaël Dagenais                     Montreal          1          Montreal, Que.            Open Studies

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