Thursday, February 26, 2009

Volleyball: All-Canadians announced

The CIS announced the men's volleyball All-Canadians and other award winners tonight. Here's the list, with some analysis to follow.

2008-09 CIS MEN'S VOLLEYBALL AWARDS & ALL-CANADIANS:

Player of the year: Joel Schmuland, Alberta Golden Bears

Rookie of the year: Chris Voth, Manitoba Bisons

Libero of the year: Nicolas Quirion, Laval Rouge et Or

Coach of the year: Terry Danyluk, Alberta Golden Bears

Dale Iwanoczko Award (outstanding student-athlete): Alan Ahow, Winnipeg Wesmen

First Team (name, school, hometown)

Emmanuel André-Morin, Montreal, Vaudreuil-sur-le-Lac,Que.
Steve Gotch, UBC, Okotoks, Alta,
Steven Kung, Toronto, Toronto,Ont.
Thierry Lavigne, Laval, Rockland, Ont.
Sander Ratsep, Dalhousie, London, Ont.
Paul Sanderson, Brandon, Melbourne, Australia
Joel Schmuland, Alberta, Calgary, Alta.

Second Team

Max Burt, Dalhousie, Gander, Nfld.
Chaim Schalk, Trinity Western, Red Deer, Alta.
Olivier Faucher, Laval, Plessisville, Que.
Jeremy Groenveld, McMaster, Welland, Ont.
Omar Langford, Calgary, Toronto, Ont. Eric Simon, Western, London, Ont.
Joren Zeeman, Queen’s, Cambridge,Ont.

All-Rookie Team
Josh Boruck, Thompson Rivers, Revelstoke, B.C.
Scott Hickman, Memorial, St. John’s, Nlfd.
Christopher Hoag, Calgary, Sherbrooke, Que.
Kenny Oshima, Montreal, Bruxelles, Belgium
Winston Rosser, Guelph, Whitby, Ont.
Samuel Schachter, Wilfrid Laurier, Richmond Hill, Ont.
Chris Voth, Manitoba, Winnipeg, Man.


Analysis:
This seems like a pretty good list. Canada West has more players than any other conference, but they're probably actually somewhat underrepresented given their success at the nationals. The conference [myself, Queen's Journal] has won 36 of the 42 national championships held in men's volleyball and has swept the medals for the past seven years and taken the championship trophy home for the last 14 years. There are some signs (myself, Queen's Journal, bottom of the article) that their dominance may be on the wane, given that the fierce competition among a wide group of Canada West teams is often cited as a factor in their success. We're starting to see more parity in the other conferences, and that perhaps could lead to a team from another conference making a run at this coming weekend's nationals. Still, Canada West teams hold four of the eight berths (three for sweeping last year's medals plus U of A's host berth), so the odds are that they'll extend the streak to 15.

On the specific player front, it was nice to see Steven Kung selected as a first-team all-star; he plays for a team that doesn't get a lot of national attention, but his stats have always been very good. Joren Zeeman of Queen's is a good choice for the second-team; he played a large role in the Gaels' run to the OUA finals. He was named the CIS rookie of the year last year and improved considerably this year, so that's worthy of note; he'll be one to watch down the road. Player of the Year Joel Schmuland is a very impressive player and played a large role in Alberta's championship last season; it will be interesting to see how he performs on his home court this year. Terry Danyluk is a tremendous coach, but it's interesting that he was selected this year; often, the Coach of the Year is given to whoever created the largest turnaround, and Danyluk's squad started the season as defending champions. Still, they went 20-0 through the regular season and playoffs in the fierce competition of Canada West, which is an incredibly impressive coaching feat. It's easy for a dominant team to let their foot off the gas and suffer a loss here or there; an undefeated record really shows that the coach has kept his players motivated and has them in perfect sync. To me, that shows that Danyluk was a deserving choice, even if he wasn't necessarily a conventional one.

(Interestingly, Dave Preston of McMaster earned the coaching award last year after an undefeated run through the OUA regular season and playoffs. However, Mac's run was a bit more surprising, as they'd lost in the OUA finals to Queen's in the previous year.)

One last brief point on this. Many schools are going budget-conscious at the moment and deciding to only fly first-team All-Canadian players to the awards ceremony at the nationals, ignoring the second-team players. This makes sense in a sport like football, where the first-team lists alone can be massive (for instance, Queen's had six first-team all-Canadian football players this year). In volleyball and similar sports, though, there really aren't a lot of players honoured as All-Canadians, so a second-team honour is much more significant in my mind. I know it's a tough economic climate for many athletic departments, but it would be nice to see the second-team all-Canadians honoured by their schools as well.

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