Wesmen volleyball wrap-up

Men’s volleyball team losing key players while women look forward to future

Ariel Smith is one of the Wesmen’s young talented young players returning next year. Uniter archives, Nov. 2008. Trevor Hagan

The men’s and women’s Wesmen volleyball teams are perfect examples of the circle of life. All good things must come to an end, while new life brings exciting possibilities.

The men are losing three key players from their squad: Andrew Town, Alan Ahow, and Paul Kjos.

All three played integral roles in Winnipeg’s record-tying 10th national championship in 2006-2007. The next year they made it to the championship game again and claimed silver in the 2007-2008 season.

This year, the team finished the regular season with a record of 10-8, and went 2-1 in the Canada West semi-finals qualifying for the CIS Nationals, in which they were defeated in both of their two games by Laval and Thompson Rivers.

“We have a lot of vacancies that need to be filled,” said head coach Larry McKay.

The team is currently recruiting some high school players whose names have yet to be announced and there are also some red shirts that will be playing at the start of next season.

“It will be an exciting year in that we have a lot of fresh young players,” said McKay.

Two players received awards for their play during the season. Town was chosen as a Canada West First Team All Star and Ahow won the CIS Dale Iwanoczko Award.

The Dale Iwanoczko Award is given for athletic ability, community service and academics. This award also happens to be the third most prestigious award that a Canadian university volleyball player can receive after ‘player of the year’ and ‘rookie of the year.’
Ahow is also the very first Winnipegger to receive this award since it was first presented in 1993-1994. In his fifth and final year Ahow finished seventh in Canada with 1.85 digs per game and he added 2.75 points and 2.49 kills per set to help the Wesmen advance to the CIS championship tournament.

“The University of Winnipeg continues to be one the best places in Canada to play volleyball, and that is due to the philosophy the university has towards its men’s volleyball team. I consider myself privileged to be working here and to be coaching this team. The efforts of the members of this team are truly tremendous and they represent the university well. With the fifth year guys leaving it’s kind of a bittersweet time but I am proud of them all,” said McKay.

Meanwhile, the women have a mix of youthful talent and veteran leadership that should make the next season an interesting one.

Ariel Smith was named to the CIS All-Rookie Team and has dazzled Wesmen fans with powerful hitting and strong fundamental play for a first year player.

Also, with one year left in her eligibility, team leader Marlee Bragg can return and play for a volleyball team that has lots of room to grow.

Published in Volume 63, Number 25 of The Uniter (March 26, 2009)

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