Championships Men’s Volleyball

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Trinity Western setter Derek Epp was named the U SPORTS men’s volleyball Player of the Year Thursday afternoon.

Past Award Winners

 Brandon’s middle blocker Philipp Lauter captured Rookie of the Year honours, while Winnipeg libero Darian Picklyk took home the Dale Iwanoczko Award for Student-Athlete Community Service for his outstanding contribution both on and off the court.  Finally, Trinity Western bench boss Ben Josephson is the Fox 40 Coach of the Year for the second consecutive year.

Hosted for just the second time by Manitoba and first since 1976, first serve on the 2022 U SPORTS Men’s Volleyball Championship flies on Friday and the event concludes Sunday with the gold medal game at 6 p.m. ET / 3 p.m. PT. All games are played at the Investors Group Athletic Centre.

Livestreaming in English is available for free worldwide on  CBCSports.caCBC Gem, and the CBC Sports app and in French on www.USPORTS.ca.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Derek Epp, Trinity Western

Epp capped his Spartans career in outstanding fashion, as the veteran setter flourished in a unique role as a setter within a 6-2 system. Epp led TWU to a Canada West best .330 hitting percentage as a team and led all primary setters in points per set, with 1.1, and kills per set, with 0.53. As an attacker, he had an individual hitting percentage of .500. In leading TWU, Epp was a perfect 12-0 in the regular season as a starter. 

The Player of the Year award adds to an impressive collection of Canada West honours to Epp’s shelf, which also includes being named a First Team All-Star both this year and in 2019-20 and being named to the Canada West All-Rookie Team in 2016-17 (when he was playing with the University of Saskatchewan).  

Beyond the Canada West season, the 2021-22 campaign saw Epp, who already has experience with Canada’s senior national team, help TWU, who was representing Canada, to a silver medal at the Pan-American Cup in the Dominican Republic. He also posted a record of 5-1 in the six matches he played, when the Spartans participated in a series of games with Pepperdine, Long Beach State, UCLA and UC Santa Barbara.  

Epp is the seventh Spartan men's volleyball player to win the CW Player of the Year award, following in the footsteps of Josh Howatson (2006-07), Ben Ball (2011-12), Nick Del Bianco (2014-15), Ryan Sclater (2016-17), Adam Schriemer (2017-18) and Eric Loeppky (2019-20).  

“His ability to take on challenges with passion, but also with a methodical approach is what makes him a great setter. That blend of laser focus, yet free creativity is what always amazes us,” said head coach Ben Josephson. “His pre-match journal is as thick as an encyclopedia. He is meticulous on details, but somehow he is still able to play in a creative free-flowing way. That balance is super rare and I think that’s one of the things that makes him a truly special setter. He’s so focused and he knows exactly what he’s trying to do, but he’s very adaptable in creating on the fly.”

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Nominees

  • CW: Derek Epp, Trinity Western (Winner)
  • OUA: Logan House, Brock
  • RSEQ: Ludovic Martin, Laval

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Philipp Lauter, Brandon

Philipp Lauter was selected as the U SPORTS rookie of the year for his exceptional play with the Brandon Bobcats this past season.

The middle hitter showed his place among the league's elite in his very first season, posting a remarkable .380 hitting percentage on the year, good for second in the Canada West conference, while his 39 service aces led the league. He also ranked second in the conference in total blocks with 75.

Lauter was twice named a CW Player of the Week and a U SPORTS Athlete of the Week during this impressive rookie campaign.

Lauter's agility, ability to read plays and reputable serve make him a formidable opponent and instant game-changer for Brandon and will undoubtedly be a formidable piece for the Bobcats for years to come.

“Philipp had a fantastic rookie season and is more than deserving of this recognition," said Brandon Head Coach Grant Wilson. “As excited as we are for him in receiving this award, what’s more exciting is what lies ahead, as we feel he is just going to get better with more experience in the annual Canada West grind.”  

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Nominees 

  • CW: Philipp Lauter, Brandon (Winner)
  • OUA: Maxime Gratton, McMaster
  • RSEQ: Jonathan Portelance, Sherbrooke

DALE IWANOCZKO AWARD (Student-Athlete Community Service): Darian Picklyk, Winnipeg Nominees

In addition to being one of the top liberos in Canada, Darian Picklyk is a leader off the floor as well.

The fourth-year Winnipeg Wesmen is highly regarded by his teammates, coaches, and staff of the Wesmen Athletics department as a positive voice and leader both in competition and away from it. 

Darian values his Ukranian heritage and culture, and has been involved in Ukranian dance for more than 17 years, performing at community events locally, nationally and internationally. He is part of the Selo Ukranian Dancers a renowned organization started three decades ago by his parents that serves to unite the local Ukranian community while providing entertainment at a variety of cultural events. He also volunteers at the Kyiv Pavillion in Winnipeg’s iconic Folklorama festival. 

This season, Darian was the driving force behind a men’s volleyball charity effort to provide food hampers and toys for less-fortunate families in the community. He is also a regular blood donor who works to encourage his teammates to follow his lead and donate as well. 

In addition to his community work, Darian is also a volunteer club volleyball coach, helping young players in the 204 Volleyball Club develop their skills. 

“Darian is one of the finest young men we have had go through our program in all areas: academics, volunteerism and community activism. He is well-liked by teammates and opponents, while being a top player in our league,” said Bisons Head Coach, Larry McKay. “There aren’t enough superlatives to do justice to Darian. When it needs doing, he does it. When he acts for common good, he gets others to come with him. He has strong leadership qualities and uses them for the betterment of others.” 

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Nominees

  • CW: Darian Picklyk, Winnipeg (Winner)
  • OUA: Amit Sayal, Western
  • RSEQ: Scott Mann, UNB

FOX 40 COACH OF THE YEAR: Ben Josephson, Trinity Western

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Ben Josephson is the U SPORTS Fox 40 Coach of the Year for the fourth time in his career, adding to his previous wins in 2011-12, 2013-14 and 2019-2020.

Josephson led TWU to a near-perfect regular season, as the Spartans rolled to a conference-best 15-1 record in Canada West. The Spartans coach helped guide the Spartans to a dominant performance offensively in which TWU led the conference with a .330 hitting percentage, while also finishing second in aces per set (2.19) and points per set (16.5).  

Utilizing the talent teeming from the Spartans roster, Josephson put together a rare 6-2 system that has made TWU a uniquely challenging opponent. With this offence in place, Josephson’s set-up saw TWU’s Derek Epp earned the Canada West Player of the Year honour while fellow Canada West All-Star Brodie Hofer led the conference in hitting percentage (.398) and was second in Canada West with 4.35 kills per set.  

“Ben, as the consummate professional, has once again brought our team to a place where they can compete for a national championship. Ben has so many incredible qualities as a coach,” said Jeff Gamache, Athletic Director of Trinity Western. “He connects with his athletes, he is technically brilliant and he has a tremendous work ethic.  But perhaps the thing that stands out the most this year is his creativity. Through the challenges of COVID-19, he simply went ‘into the lab’ and came out with a super unique 6-2 system that has maximized the talents of this year’s group.  Ben is also a collaborator and a mentor.”

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Nominees

  • CW: Ben Josephson, Trinity Western (Winner)
  • OUA: Dave Preston, McMaster
  • RSEQ: Mohamed El Fethi Abed

ALL-CANADIAN & ALL-ROOKIE TEAMS

 

First Team All-Canadians
Pos. First Name Last Name School

L

Yassine

Kassis

Montréal

OH

Logan

House

Brock

OH

Erik

Siksna

Queen's

S

Derek

Epp

Trinity Western

S

Max

Elgert

Alberta

OH

Brodie

Hofer

Trinity Western

OPP

Daniel

Thiessen

Winnipeg

Second Team All-Canadians
Pos. First Name Last Name School

S

Ludovic

Martin

Laval

MB

Raphaël

Viens

Sherbrooke

OH

Jackson

Young

Nipissing

OH

Sam

Cooper

McMaster

OH

Jonathan

Pickett

Guelph

OH

Hamish

Hazelden

Calgary

MB

Philipp

Lauter

Brandon

All-Rookie Team
Pos. First Name Last Name School

S

Jonathan

Portelance

Sherbrooke

OH

Michael

Donovan

Dalhousie

OH

Maxime

Gratton

McMaster

OH

Jacob

Walker

Ryerson

MB

Philipp

Lauter

Brandon

OH

Isaac

Heslinga

Alberta

OH

Skyler

Varga

Saskatchewan