CJ Pentland, CapU Sports Information Director
Third-year setter Simon Friesen of the Capilano University Blues has been named the best men’s volleyball player in the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association for the 2017-18 season, winning National Player of the Year honours at the CCAA Awards Banquet on Wednesday night in Victoria. Friesen is the first CapU men’s volleyball player to win the award, and seventh Blues student-athlete overall to be named the nation’s top player in their respective sport.
Previously named the 2017-18 PACWEST Player of the Year two weeks ago, Friesen beat out nominees from the CCAA’s four other conferences and became first winner from the PACWEST conference since 2011. He was also one of two PACWEST players named a CCAA All-Canadian, along with Braydon Brouwer from Vancouver Island University.
“Simon had an outstanding campaign for the Blues and was consistently great all season in all aspects of the game,” said David Munro, CCAA VP Sport Development. “He is a gifted athlete, an exemplary student and well deserving of this great honour.”
A PACWEST First Team All-Star last season and a member of the conference All-Rookie team in 2015-16, Friesen elevated his game to another level in 2017-18 and established himself as the top setter and all-around player in the conference. CapU head coach Emmanuel Denguessi credits Friesen for Capilano’s successful 19-5 season thanks to his masterful handling of the team’s offensive play, as he kept the defence guessing and set the Blues attackers up for consistent success. He averaged 10.14 assists per set this season, and also recorded 65 kills on a 0.419 hitting percentage thanks to his ability to surprise the defence with a setter dump.
Friesen also possesses an excellent defensive game, averaging 1.77 digs per set and ranking 15th in the PACWEST in blocks with 0.43 per set. The Abbotsford native rounds out his game with a strong serve, as his 28 total aces were seventh-most in the league.
“The extent of Simon’s volleyball skills as setter are seen in our lack of success to recruit players in the setter position,” said Denguessi after Friesen was named PACWEST Player of the Year. “All potential recruits who have ambition in the position always asked me whether or not Simon is coming back. When I answer with the affirmative, I barely hear back from them.
“It is sad because I think there are many things that setters can learn from Simon. First, the drive to win: Simon has a winner’s mindset. Second, leadership: Simon has established himself as the face of the Capilano Blues men’s volleyball program. He is at the service of his teammates, and he serves as a communication bridge between the coaches and athletes. Third, he is a student of the game: I have seen him doing things that Bruno Rezende (the best setter in the world) does. It comforts me to realize that the other coaches in our conference saw it and granted him the Player of the Year award, which is most often awarded to outside hitters.”
A Business student at CapU, Friesen also excelled in the classroom during the Fall term, and is a team representative on the Blues Athletic Council. In the community, he volunteers with Atomic Volleyball on the North Shore and with Blues summer camps, and coaches with the BCO Volleyball program. In the words of Denguessi: “he lives out the values of the institution he represents.”
CCAA Player of the Year winners receive a customized ring provided by Jostens Canada, the Official Ring Supplier of the CCAA Championship Awards Banquet.
Other nominees for the CCAA Player of the Year award were Trent Mounter of the SAIT Trojans (ACAC), Cole Jordan of the Fanshawe Falcons (OCAA), Martin Ludovic of the Titans de Limoilou (RSEQ) and Brett Butler of the Holland Hurricanes (ACAA).
- With files from the CCAA