Awards and All-Canadians
PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Ben Ball, Trinity Western
Ball put together the best campaign a Canada West setter has ever had in terms of assists per set as he averaged a conference record and CIS season-best 11.54. The 6-foot-4 senior was a master of distribution this year as he helped eight teammates to at least 1.30 kills per set – including team leader Rudy Verhoeff (3.92) - while guiding the Spartans to a CIS-leading 13.68 kills per set and a Canada West-best .318 hitting percentage.
Thanks to his outstanding play, reigning national champion Trinity Western finished first in Canada West with a 19-1 regular season record - the best mark in the country - and qualified for the CIS championship for the third straight year.
Ball, who will graduate with a major in general studies and minors in human kinetics and communications, ends his university career in second place on the conference all-time list with 2,742 assists. In 2010-11, he was a Canada West all-star and was named to the CIS all-tournament team after helping the Spartans capture the second national title in school history.
"Ben is the engine that runs our team," said Spartans coach Ben Josephson. "His unassuming attitude on the court and ability to find the fun in any situation make him the perfect setter for our team. His genius with the ball and athletic ability make him the most memorable setter in our program's history. He has put together a great senior season and we will miss him greatly in the years to come."
The other nominees for CIS-MVP honours were UNB outside hitter Julio Fernandez, Laval left side Karl De Grandpré and Queen's outside Joren Zeeman.
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Andrew Nelson, Regina
Nelson is the first Regina player to earn CIS rookie-of-the-year honours in men's volleyball.
After starring at Regina's Campbell Collegiate, the 18-year-old freshman had an immediate impact for the Cougars in his CIS debut. The 6-foot-6 kinesiology and health student, who came off the bench in Regina's first two regular season games, had 21 kills against provincial rival Saskatchewan on Nov. 3 in his first match as a starter and never looked back.
Nelson had at least 10 kills in all but four of the 16 contests he started and eclipsed the 20-kill mark three times, including a school-record 29 against Brandon on Nov. 25. His season average of 3.48 kills per set ranked sixth in Canada West and stands as the third highest in the U of R single-season record book. He finished conference play with 230 kills, 75 digs, 29 blocks and 10 service aces.
"Andrew was able to provide our team with consistent offence and has improved his play greatly on the defensive side of the ball over the course of the season," said Regina head coach Greg Barthel. "We look forward to Andrew being a fantastic player for the Cougars over the next four seasons."
Dalhousie middle Connor Maessen, Laval right side Tommy Bélisle and McMaster outside Alexander Elliott were also in the running for top-rookie honours.
LIBERO OF THE YEAR: Jarrod Offereins, Trinity Western
Offereins, the first Trinity Western player to be named CIS libero of the year, finished third in Canada West and fifth in the country in digs per set (3.12) in his fourth season with the Spartans. Throughout the campaign, he established a new TWU standard for defensive play.
His 3.12 average is a single-season school record and the sixth highest in Canada West history. On Nov. 25, despite playing in only two sets, the 6-foot-4 communications major set a team mark for a three-set match with 20 digs in a 3-0 win against UBC Okanagan. He hit double digits in digs 13 times in 20 conference outings this season and had only nine reception errors in 58 total sets.
Offereins also owns a share of the Spartans' single-match record with 24 digs, a performance that dates back to Nov. 14, 2009, against Brandon.
"Jarrod has been the anchor that has stabilized our team in terms of serve reception and defence," said Ben Josephson. "His constant positivity has allowed those around him to stay focused on the task at hand and not to get swept up in the emotion of the matches. His ability as a serve receiver is second to none and his athletic abilities allow him to make big play after big play. I sleep better at night knowing Jarrod is on our team anchoring our back court."
The other finalists for the award were Memorial's Brad Jolliffe, Laval's Pierre-Alexis Lapointe and Queen's Niko Rukavina.
COACH OF THE YEAR (presented by Coaches of Canada): Ben Josephson, Trinity Western
Josephson was honoured by his CIS peers for the first time, in his fifth season as head coach of the Spartans. He is the second TWU sideline boss to earn the honour. His predecessor, Ron Pike, received the award in 2004-05.
After claiming the second national title in program history last winter, the Spartans picked up right where they left off this season. They compiled a remarkable 31-2 overall record against CIS opponents and a CIS-best 19-1 mark in conference play, good for the team's first-ever first-place finish in the Canada West standings. Ranked number one in all 14 weekly national coaches' polls, their only loss in league play came against second-ranked Manitoba.
Last October, the Spartans represented Canada and NORCECA at the FIVB club world championship in Qatar, where they kept a 1-2 record, including a win over the champions of the Iranian professional league, Paykan Tehran.
Josephson, who has an all-time overall record of 106-58 as TWU head coach, was also an assistant coach with the Canadian entry at the 2011 Summer Universiade in China, which marked his second appearance at the World University Games. Prior to taking over the program, he assisted Pike on the Spartans' sidelines for three seasons and played for TWU for five campaigns, meriting all-Canadian status once.
"It is a great honour for Ben to be selected by his peers for this prestigious award," said Spartans athletic director Murray Hall. "Ben has helped set the standard for coaching excellence at TWU in a number of areas. He has built an excellent expert-based staff around him and recruited top student-athletes who fit the high performance and high character culture he demands. Ben's team understands the game of volleyball, but is also forever striving to be contributing and serving citizens who actively engage in community service, outreach and cross-cultural experiences."
Dalhousie's Dan Ota, Laval's Pascal Clément and Western's Jim Sage were the other nominees.
DALE IWANOCZKO AWARD (volleyball, academics & community service): Rudy Verhoeff, Trinity Western
Verhoeff, who was the Canada West nominee for the prestigious Dale Iwanoczko Award for the second straight year, became the second Spartan to receive the trophy. He follows former TWU great Josh Howatson (2006-07).
On the court, the 6-foot-5 right side was once again dominant this season averaging 3.85 kills (4th in Canada West), 4.54 points (4th) and 1.07 blocks per set (9th), to go with a .300 hitting percentage (7th). His remarkable play earned him first-team all-Canadian status for the first time in his five-year career. Last season, he was named to the second CIS squad and was voted MVP of the national championship.
A 3.86 GPA student in religious studies (minor in biology), it is Verhoeff's involvement in the community that really sets him apart. He has been a Big Brother to a young boy named Adrian, who he has met with weekly over the past year, while also working as a mentor to two young volleyball players in the community in a capacity similar to a Big Brother relationship.
Verhoeff is also a leader of a small group on the Spartans team that works through different personal and spiritual growth articles and prays together. He has been a part of the Student Athlete Leadership Team (SALT) at TWU that meets to plan events and both coordinate leadership opportunities amongst the teams and leadership development programs within the Athletics Department. He has also been a volunteer coach with the Fraser Valley Volleyball Club for the past five seasons.
Head coach Ben Josephson says Verhoeff "is the athlete every coach dreams about recruiting."
"Rudy is supremely talented on court, disciplined in the classroom and dedicated to his community," Josephson said. "This season he is playing his third position in three years and has excelled in each position. We've asked him to play right side and he has led our team in kills and points.
"Apart from his on court performance, Rudy is also our leader and captain. I have learned so much from him over these five years. His legacy as a teammate, leader, man of faith, and friend will stick with me, and our program, forever. It has been my greatest pleasure to walk alongside Rudy these five years. Our team, staff and school are all better for having him as a student, teammate and friend."
The other finalists for the Iwanoczko Award were Dalhousie's Daniel You, Laval's Justin Boudreault and York's Karim Khalil.
The all-Canadian teams were also announced on Thursday.
Joining Ball and Verhoeff on the first unit were conference most valuable players Karl De Granpré of Laval (RSEQ) and Joren Zeeman of Queen's (OUA), as well as Alberta right side Mitch Irvine, Manitoba right side Dane Pischke and Western middle Phil James.
De Granpré was voted to the first team for the third consecutive season and was also selected to the second squad as a freshman back in 2007-08, when he was named CIS rookie of the year. Zeeman had been a second-team selection each of the past three campaigns.
The second CIS dream team for 2011-12 is comprised of AUS MVP Julio Fernandez, an outside hitter from UNB, as well as Laval setter Justin Boudreault, Calgary middle Graham Vigrass, Windsor outside Kyle Williamson, Dalhousie right side Kenneth Rauwerda, Manitoba left side Chris Voth and Western left side Garrett May.
Vigrass, last season's CIS MVP, and Williamson were both first-team all-Canadians a year ago.
Joining Nelson on the all-rookie team were Laval right side Tommy Bélisle, McMaster outside Alexander Elliott, UBC outside Jarrid Ireland, Dalhousie middle Connor Maeseen, Thompson Rivers right side Brad Gunter, and Waterloo outside Erich Woolley.
Position - Athlete - University - Year - Hometown - Faculty
Setter Ben Ball Trinity Western 5 Abbotsford, B.C. General
Left Side Karl De Grandpré Laval 5 Pierreville, Que. Economics
Right Side Rudy Verhoeff Trinity Western 5 Calgary, Alta. Religious St.
Outside Joren Zeeman Queen's 5 Cambridge, Ont. PH Education
Right Side Mitch Irvine Alberta 4 Red Deer, Alta. Education
Right Side Dane Pischke Manitoba 4 Winnipeg, Man. Business
Middle Phil James Western 3 Ottawa, Ont. Arts
Outside Julio Fernandez UNB 3 Los Teques, Venezuela BBA
Setter Justin Boudreault Laval 4 Dolbeau, Que. PE & Health
Middle Graham Vigrass Calgary 5 Calgary, Alta. Science
Outside Kyle Williamson Windsor 4 Essex, Ont. Psychology
Right Side Kenneth Rauwerda Dalhousie 4 Calgary, Alta. Chemistry
Left Side Chris Voth Manitoba 4 Winnipeg, Man. Kinesiology
Left Side Garrett May Western 2 Scarborough, Ont. Social Sciences
Right Side Andrew Nelson Regina 1 Regina, Sask. Kin. &
Right Side Tommy Bélisle Laval 1 Pierreville, Que. Biology
Outside Alexander Elliott McMaster 1 Cobourg, Ont. Social Sciences
Outside Jarrid Ireland UBC 1 Winnipeg, Man. Arts
Middle Connor Maeseen Dalhousie 1 Dartmouth, N.S. Science
Right Side Brad Gunter Thompson Rivers 1 Courtenay, B.C. Science
Outside Erich Woolley Waterloo 1 New Dundee, Ont. English