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Trio of Blues earn PACWEST awards

Trio of Blues earn PACWEST awards

Leading the way was setter Simon Friesen, who improved off his All-Rookie Team honour from last year and was named a PACWEST First Team All-Star in 2016-17. A graduate of Mennonite Educational Institute in Abbotsford, the second-year established himself as one of the strongest setters in the conference, as his ability to read the game and his decision-making were crucial in establishing a successful offensive strategy for Capilano. He also stood out with his serving and his defence – finishing seventh in the conference in total digs (202; 2.20 per set).

"Simon is the most wanted player in the league at this moment, and there is no setter in the PACWEST as talented and charismatic than Simon," said head coach Emmanuel Denguessi, a former setter himself and former PACWEST Rookie of the Year. "As captain, he was our anchor; he relayed the culture set by the leadership of the team to the players, and advocated the players' needs to the coaches. As a setter, he organized our offense in a majestic way, doing tricks that made the skeptics believe in the beauty of the sport."Simon Friesen

Taking home a major award on the men’s side was right-side Justin Nicholas Yee, who was named PACWEST Rookie of the Year and to the All-Rookie team. A former setter at Moscrop Secondary in Burnaby, Yee took the league by storm and carried the team on his shoulders at many moments. With powerful spin serves, high-octane attacks, and big blocks, Yee was responsible for many of the Blues’ strong performances this season, and he sits among the conference leaders in several categories: 7th in digs (2.32 per set), 8th in total offence (3.27), 10th in kills (2.62), and 10th in aces (0.37).

"Justin has been the revelation of the year not only for Cap but also for the league," said Denguessi. "He finished the season being listed amount the top 10 players in four categories, which demonstrated his versatility and his contribution to the team. He deserved the recognition the league granted him, and we look forward to see more of it in the future years."

Joining Yee on the All-Rookie Team was libero Jonathan Lee. The first-year from Vancouver’s David Thompson Secondary was the heart and soul of the Blues’ receiving and digging department, recording by far the most digs in the conference (347 – 75 more than the next-highest total). He managed to make spectacular diving plays nearly every match, making him one of the athletes that people would specifically come to watch.

"In the pre- season we were very curious to see what he was able to deliver as a libero at the college level. During the season, he surpassed our expectations, and we think he was one of the main reasons people came our games. Jonathan is one of those few players that can combine efficiency, effectiveness, and showtime at the sametime, and he does it well."

"It is true that these three student athletes were recognized by the league, however, it had been a team effort," added Denguessi. "Athletes such as Zarley Zalusky, Mattias Wels-Lopez, Kevin Chiu, Cameron Fay, and TheAhn Phan were talented enough to be a part of the rookie team, and John Dela Cruz and Sameh Khodr deserved to be on one of the award teams. We also enjoyed the contribution of Max Chadwick to the team."