In 2016-17, the Capilano University Blues men’s volleyball team boasted a plethora of young talent. This season, the talent is still pretty young – yet it’s primed and ready to build off the successes from last year and take Capilano to the next level.
The Blues may boast only one player with at least two years of PACWEST experience, but they return all seven of their rookies who saw significant time on the court last season. In his third year as head coach of CapU, Emmanuel Denguessi has kept his core group together while bringing in six new faces to round out a cohesive 2017-18 squad.
Last season Capilano finished in sixth in the PACWEST with a 10-14 record, and they fell in the provincial quarterfinals to the eventual champions Camosun College. The season saw plenty of bright spots, though, which included a 7-6 record on home court and the development of seven rookies who all made key contributions.
Among the returners are a trio of Blues who took home PACWEST hardware last year. A First Team All-Star in 2016-17, team captain Simon Friesen will be back for his third season after establishing himself as one of the top setters in the league. With his decision-making and ability to read the game, Friesen will again orchestrate a balanced CapU offence and provide a veteran voice on the court.
One of the main beneficiaries of Friesen’s passing ability is second-year Justin Yee. The Burnaby native moved from setter to outside hitter at the start of last season, and promptly went on to win PACWEST Rookie of the Year. With his powerful spin serves and high-octane attacks, Yee helped carry Capilano at several moments throughout the season, and ranked 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).
|Capilano libero Jonathan Lee led the CCAA in digs last season.|
Also taking the league by storm was libero Jonathan Lee, who appeared alongside Yee on the conference All-Rookie team. Lee powered CapU’s defensive effort, recording by far the most digs in the PACWEST and CCAA (347) – many of which came in spectacular fashion.
Back at the middle position for their second season are 6’4” forces Zarley Zalusky and Mattias Wels-Lopez, and they’ll be joined by 6’4” Trevor Deshane out of Fraser Heights Secondary in Surrey. Wels-Lopez finished on the PACWEST blocks leaderboard last year, averaging 0.45 per set.
At outside hitter, TheAhn Pham, Kevin Chiu, and Cameron Fay all return for another season at Capilano, and will mentor newcomers Jacob Hopkins (Prince of Wales, Vancouver); Billy Chen (Killarney – Vancouver), Max Clarke (FH Collins – Whitehorse, YT); and Alex McLean (Valleyview – Kamloops). Chiu is expected to again have one of the top serves in the league, as last season he hammered out 37 aces with his spin serve – the fourth-highest total in the PACWEST and seventh-highest in the CCAA.
Rounding out the talented recruiting class for 2017-18 are liberos Justin Mo (Killarney – Vancouver) and CJ Johnston, a transfer from Sheridan College in Oakville, Ontario.
The PACWEST regular season get underway on Friday, October 13, 2017 when Capilano welcomes the Douglas College Royals for the first of a two-game home series. First serve goes at 8:00pm at the Sportsplex in North Vancouver, while game two of the series is on Saturday, October 14 at 7:00pm.