Pro: Men's Playoff Weekend

Pro: Men's Playoff Weekend

馃嚝馃嚪 France 

Saturday April 7th

The LNV playoffs kick off this weekend with the first match of a best of three series! Defending champs Chaumont VB 52 

#4 Ajaccio vs. #5 Poitevin - 11:00 a.m. ET / 8:00 a.m. PT

#3 Paris vs. #6 Montpellier - 11:15 a.m. ET / 8:15 a.m. PT

#1 Tours vs. #8 Sete - 2:00 p.m. ET / 11:00 a.m. PT

#2 Chaumont vs. #7 Tourcoing - 2:00 p.m. ET / 11:00 a.m. PT

馃嚛馃嚜 Germany

Sunday April 8th

Things are tight in the Bundesliga! Three of the quarterfinal matches require a third game

Berlin vs. L眉neberg - 10:00 a.m. ET / 7:00 a.m. PT

Rhein-Main vs. Herrsching - 10:00 a.m. ET / 7:00 a.m. PT

D眉ren vs. Unterhaching - 8:30 a.m. ET / 6:30 a.m. PT

馃嚠馃嚬 Italy

Poland

uSports: Schriemer Named Player of the Year

uSports: Schriemer Named Player of the Year

Trinity Western's 5th-year setter Adam Schriemer (Winnipeg, Manitoba) has been named the uSports Men's Volleyball 2018 Player of Year at the All-Canadian banquet in Hamilton this morning. 

The Spartans Captain led his team to a 22-2 Regular season, dishing out 920 assists, averaging 10.57 assists/set - placing him in second in the country. 

AdamSchriemerPOTY.jpg

A former Junior National team athlete (2014) - Schriemer has started in all of his 5 years at Trinity Western, leading them to 5-straight Nationals appearances, three-straight Canada West titles, and has a chance to win a 3rd-straight National Championship - something that hasn't been done since Winnipeg did it during their record 4 in-a-row from 1971 - to 1974. 

CEV: Champions League Men's Playoffs 12

CEV: Champions League Men's Playoffs 12

Motor MVB: John Speraw

Motor MVB: John Speraw

Motor MVB is creating opportunities for males to play volleyball competitively in the Unitied States and North America. The group is lead by John Speraw, Lloy Ball, Paul Tashima, Kelly Goodsel, Wade Garard, and Marin Gjaja. We were lucky to speak to US Men鈥檚 National Team Head coach and UCLA Head Coach John Speraw to learn more about this great project.

The United States has had a lot of success internationally including their recent Bronze Medal at the Rio Olympics and the well document success of their 1984, 1988 and 2008 Gold Medal Teams. What makes their success even more impressive is they rely mostly on the small NCAA school system for athlete development. Currently there are less than 45 schools competing in men鈥檚 volleyball at the Division 1 and Division 2 levels.

We asked John what Motor MVB鈥檚 plan was to increase the number of male athletes playing the sport.

鈥淚f you had everything at your disposal in terms of what you need to do to grow a sport, you鈥檇 have 2 focuses.  Growing it at the top end, division 1 and 2, how you are increasing the number of scholarships to incentivize the number of athletes playing.

Then you have to have a grassroots effort to spread the exposure of the game to a lot of boys when they are making a decision at 12, 13, 14 for what they are going to do for a sport.  

We call it the top down, bottom up. We are learning what the best strategies are. We鈥檝e realized we need to increase the number of talented boys playing and we need scholarships available at the top.鈥

Fans of the NCAA have seen the growth and popularity of volleyball into new areas of the United States affect the sport. Traditionally teams from California have dominated the NCAA Title picture but recently Ohio State and Loyala have combined to win the last four championships. 

鈥淭op to bottom the MPSF is still the toughest. The depth of talent has definitely changed.  You see more players are coming out of the Chicago area. Over the last ten years key players have come out of Flordia.  The success of Loyala and Ohio State demonstrates that there is talent good enough to win all over the country.

We鈥檇 like to continue to expand in the North East. There lots of boys that play in New York and Pennsivania and not enough opportunities at the D1 and D2 levels to play.

I think there is real opportunity in the Mid West. Because of the talent and success of the teams that are already there. We鈥檇 like to grow in the Big 10 and Pac 12, that is the ultimate goal.鈥

Boys volleyball is on the rise in Canada and the US. If male athletes can see how exciting and powerful the sport is we will continue to grow our sport. Speraw shared Motor MVB鈥檚 plan for the next 10 years with us. 

鈥淚t鈥檚 exciting. If you look at trends in growth of sports. It is one of the fastest growing youth sports in the US over the last few years. 12% more boys are playing. And it gets great ratings at the Olympic games. There are some signs there that there are opportunities.

We ultimately need to do 2 things. We need to raise money and meet people who are interested in growing the men鈥檚 game that have the leadership and financial resources to grow the game. It鈥檚 about how we can help athletic departments fund and manage their volleyball programs.鈥

Then we have to figure out a way to encourage clubs and high schools to get boys to play the game. We need more boys to play and more places for them to go get scholarships.

The third pillar of this would be a pro league. If there was a pro league where good Canadians and Americans could stay close to home or at home that would really be great for everyone and grow the sport for everyone in NORCECA. That鈥檚 ultimately the short version of what we need to do.鈥

When you look at the popularity of volleyball it鈥檚 fair for some fans to ask why their isn鈥檛 already a professional league on the men鈥檚 or women鈥檚 side in North America. Coach Speraw shared his thoughts on what it takes to run a successful league in North America.

鈥淚 think people look at the sports market in North America and see all of the money that is there and think it鈥檚 easy to start a league. I think it is really hard to break in because of the media focus on the major sports.  It鈥檚 really hard to break into the conversation. Even if you look at the universities that are so impactful on the sport culture in the United States it鈥檚 about one thing, football.

When you start looking at the financials and it looks real big and there is all this money in sports and volleyball would only cost 鈥淴鈥 number of dollars why isn鈥檛 this possible? It鈥檚 really hard to get on TV and generate enough television revenue and get it on ESPN, so it becomes a topic of conversation every night.

When you look at MLS they started it when the world cup was in LA in 94. They launched the MLS and it didn鈥檛 make any money for 10 years and that is soccer with a focus around the World Cup. Now they are doing fine and they have learned a lot. We can learn a lot from the MLS that we are looking at. You have to find the right people, right markets, and get it on TV.鈥

鈥淚 think for the first time we have a real organized, disciplined, purposeful system for trying to grow the game in North America. I think it鈥檚 going to be exciting to see what we can do. It鈥檚 going to take time. This is a 10-year project for us. We have to understand that this is a challenge for all of us that love the game. It鈥檚 worth the time and investment to see how far we can take our game.鈥

If you鈥檙e interested donating to Motor MVB or learning more about their plans to grow the men鈥檚 game please visit their website http://www.motormvb.com/

CEV: Champions League & Cup

CEV: Champions League & Cup

Wednesday December 5th

CEV Champions League

馃嚝馃嚠 Ford Store Levoranta SASTAMALA vs. 馃嚞馃嚪 Paok Thessaloniki

Noon ET / 9:00 a.m. PT


馃嚙馃嚜 Noliko Maaseik vs. 馃嚠馃嚬 Trentino Diatec

2:30 ET / 12:30 PT

馃嚚馃嚘 Nicholas Hoag - Trentino Diatec

馃嚚馃嚘 Jay Blankenau - Noliko Maaseik


CEV Cup 

馃嚨馃嚬 Benfica Lisboa vs. 馃嚘馃嚬 UVC Holding Graz

Noon ET / 9:00 a.m. PT 

馃嚚馃嚘 Fred Winters - Benfica Lisboa

CEV: Champions League Round 3 - Leg 1 (M)

CEV: Champions League Round 3 - Leg 1 (M)

MNT: Hubert Wagner Memorial Tournament

MNT: Hubert Wagner Memorial Tournament

The Maple Volley are back in action, now travelling to Krakow, Poland for the Hubert Wagner Memorial tournament in preparation for the NORCECA Championships later this fall. 

馃嚚馃嚘 ROSTER

1 - TJ Sanders, London, ON (setter)
3 - Steve Marshall, Abbotsford, BC (outside hitter)
4 - Nicholas Hoag, Sherbrooke, QC (outside hitter)
9 - Jason DeRocco, Winnipeg, MB (outside hitter)
10 - Sharone Vernon-Evans, Scarborough, ON (opposite)
11 - Daniel Jansen Vandoorn, Langley, BC (middle blocker)
12 - Lucas Van Berkel, Edmonton, AB (middle blocker)
13 - Ryley Barnes, St. Paul, AB (outside hitter)
15 - Bryan Duquette, St. Thomas, ON (libero)
17 - Graham Vigrass, Calgary, AB (middle blocker)
18 - Bradley Gunter, Comox, BC (opposite)
19 - Blair Bann, Edmonton, AB (libero)
20 - Arthur Szwarc, Toronto, ON (middle blocker)
21 - Brett Walsh, Calgary, AB (setter)
 
Head coach: Stephane Antiga
Assistant coaches: Dan Lewis, Georges Laplante

TEAMS

馃嚚馃嚘 Canada - No. 6

馃嚨馃嚤 Poland - No. 3

馃嚝馃嚪 France - No. 9

馃嚪馃嚭 Russia - No. 4

Friday August 11th

RussiaRussiadef.鈥淐anada鈥Canada3-1 (25-23, 29-27, 22-25, 25-17)
鈥淔rance鈥Francedef.PolandPoland3-2 (22-25, 25-16, 25-20, 22-25, 15-13)

Saturday August 12th

鈥淧oland鈥Polanddef.CanadaCanada3-0 (36-34, 25-20, 26-24)
鈥淔rance鈥Francevs.RussiaRussia11:00 a.m. ET / 8:00 a.m. PT

Friday August 11th

鈥淐anada鈥Canadavs.FranceFrance11:00 a.m. ET / 8:00 a.m. PT
PolandPolandvs.鈥淩ussia鈥Russia2:00 p.m. ET / 11:00 a.m. PT

*Note: The live stream link provided does not require a VPN but is coming from a third-party website

NCAA: Coach Hanson

NCAA: Coach Hanson

The Ohio State Buckeyes repeated as NCAA National Champions this year in front of their home crowd in Columbus Ohio. Combined with their 2011 Championships and Loyola鈥檚 2014 & 2015 Championships, Eastern teams have won the last 4 NCAA National Championships and 5 of the last 7. Penn State made history in 1994 being the first school based outside of California to win an NCAA Championship. Coach Pete Hanson from the Ohio State Buckeyes took the time to meet with us about his programs success and the growth of men鈥檚 volleyball across Division 1. 

鈥淚 think boys volleyball is growing nation wide in the US.  If you want to be successful at this sport you can go anywhere across the country and have a high level of success collegiately. 20-30 years ago if you wanted a better than average chance to win you had to go to the west coast. I think that鈥檚 definitely changed. 鈥

When asked about Motor MVB鈥檚 Project to create more opportunities for boys volleyball in the United States, Coach Hansen said 鈥淲e would love to see growth at the division 1 level. I would love to see the Big 10, Pac 12, ACC or SEC or any of the power conferences. Getting it to be a little more on par with where the women鈥檚 game is in terms of being a main stream sport in those conferences.鈥 

One area of the game that Ohio State has invested in that has contributed to their success is their world class serving. Ohio State was very aggressive from the service line this year with standouts Nicolas Szerszen, Miles Johnson, and Christy Blough. 鈥淚t鈥檚 easy to potentially deal with 1 server, but when you鈥檝e got 3 that keep coming at you. It eventually wares you down and breaks you. It鈥檚 a relentless amount of pressure.鈥 When asked how coaches can instill this philosophy with their own teams Coach Hansen said 鈥淲e decided as coaches we needed to buy into this. We need to turn these guys loose and allow them to do this and understand if we鈥檙e on we鈥檙e going to be great and if we鈥檙e off some there is a chance we lose or things don鈥檛 go well. But it鈥檚 worth the risk.鈥 

The need for getting teams out of system contributed to the patience Ohio State had with this serving philosophy.  鈥淲hen the setter is on the net with all options and the back row guy is available they are going to score at will on you when they are in system. You have to find a way to minimize that and serving has become a component of that.鈥 Over the season the Ohio State players managed their errors and continued their relentless level of pressure. During the season Ohio State earned 225 aces while their opponents earned 98 against them.

Canadian fans are aware of Ohio State鈥檚 playing style. The Buckeyes have had a relationship with McMaster University over the last few seasons. 鈥淐oach Preston鈥檚 team plays a great level of volleyball. They beat us pretty good and that was good for us. There was some differences for us and we didn鈥檛 respond to the situation very well.鈥 Fans can get excited, McMcaster has announced their schedule for the 2017-2018 season that includes a two matches against the Buckeyes October 21 and 22. 鈥淥ur experience with Coach Preston and McMaster has been extraordinary and we鈥檇 like to continue it. I like to play different opponents and different styles of opponents. I think it鈥檚 good for both programs. Now we just have to find a way to beat these guys.鈥 

Looking ahead to the 2018 season, Ohio State will have a good core of players including Nicolas Szerszen return as they compete for their 3rd straight national title. If the Buckeyes capture their 3rd straight title they would join the UCLA Bruins as the only two teams to hold this record in NCAA Men鈥檚 Volleyball history.

FIVB: Maple Volleys Kick Off World League Finals

FIVB: Maple Volleys Kick Off World League Finals

The Maple Volleys 2017 World League campaign continues tonight as they travel to Brazil after qualifying for the Final Six for the first time since 2013. They take on the hosts at 2:00 p.m. ET. 

Finishing 5th in the intercontinental round with a 5-4 record, Canada will be in pool J1 alongside hosts Brazil and Russia. The Maple Volleys fell 3-1 to the defending Olympic Champions in Week 2, and haven't faced Russia since the Quarterfinals at the Rio Olympic Games last summer. This is also the same pool as the 2013 World League Finals, in which Canada upset Russia 3-2 but failed to move on to the semi-finals. 

They face Russia on Wednesday once again at 2:00 ET. With no meeting duering t

On the other side in pool J1, the USA - who started the World League 0-3 but have been red hot since then, will be fighting against defending World League champs Serbia and red hot France. France is coming into the finals as favourites after going 8-1 in the intercontinental round and welcoming superstar Earvin N'Gapeth back into the starting line-up. 

The top two teams from each pool will move on to the semis on Friday, with the Gold and Bronze medal games to be played on Sunday. All Canadian matches can be found on cbcsports.ca and all World League matches can be found live on YouTube. 

馃嚚馃嚘 Canada vs. 馃嚙馃嚪 Brazil - July 4th @ 2:00 p.m. ET / 11:00 a.m. PT

馃嚚馃嚘 Canada vs. 馃嚪馃嚭 Russia - July 5th @ 2:00 p.m. ET / 11:00 a.m. PT

BEACH: Redmann Retires from International Competition

BEACH: Redmann Retires from International Competition

After 15 years of international competition Christian Redmann has decided to retire internationally from beach volleyball. I add in internationally because we will see him at the OVA Grand Slam June 24-25 in Toronto. We will hopefully see him at other Canadian events such as the Vancouver Open, Centre of Gravity or a Cliver in the near future. Christian鈥檚 FIVB career includes over 90 events played, a 9th place finish at the 2009 World Championships, Norceca Championships, and 2 Volleyball Canada National Championships.

Christian鈥檚 international career started in 2002 when he partnered with Chris Simek. The pair traveled to Italy for World Championships, finishing 5th. Simek and Redmann began playing in Chris鈥檚 back yard where they would battle for hours playing variations of short court. It鈥檚 really impressive that two athletes from Oro Station, Ontario started competing in the backyard and would go on to represent Canada at the highest level.

鈥淚 would say that Christian is an extremely inspiring individual. I will never forget our juvenile boys tryout for Georgian Cubs where the coach cut Christian from the team for not being tall enough or athletic enough. He has always been underestimated and overlooked. I feel that those experiences drove him to become the exceptional athlete he is. From the time I was fortunate enough to become friends with Christian he has been extremely determined to be the best volleyball player he could. His drive and determination has proven to me that anything is possible if you want it enough. He accomplished some amazing things because he refused to give up and always worked harder than those that were told had more potential. I am extremely proud to have seen him succeed at the highest level and accomplish his dreams of competing and achieving success at the highest level. I wish him the best in his future with Dominique and couldn't be prouder to see a close friend become an ultimate pro in a sport he has dedicated his life to.鈥
鈥 Chris Simek

鈥淚 feel very fortunate and privileged that I've had the opportunity to play for as long as I have and to have so many incredible experiences and lessons. There are some people that I really need to thank for all the time and e for they have put in over the years.

First my wife for always supporting me and believing in me and for taking care of so many things alone while I was away for training and traveling for tournaments not to mention being my team Dr. 

Myparents and my brother who always allowed me to follow my dream and taught me so many lessons growing up that helped me be able to do what I loved to do.

Thomas Lam and the whole team at FITS. Thomas is really amazing at what he does, he is definitely the best, and always he working hard in the gym to make up for what I lacked in size.

Hernan Humana for all the coaching and wisdom he passed on over the last couple years.

Manny Frantzis for always making time to treat me and lots of nutrition and health advice. There is a reason they call him a magician.

Ryan Scott or also always making time for me and making sure my shoulder wasn't going to fall off. I'm not sure how he did it but I couldn'tbelieve the reliefI had when I left his place.  

JP Pawliw Fry for helping me on the mental game in sports and in life.

Chris Simek who I grew up and always looked up to as a player, still to this one of the best players I have ever seen. He always game ready to win and never took days off when he was on the court. Probably the most competitive guy I've ever seen play. I think in all the years we played 1 on 1 games in his backyard beach court I never beat him once.

All my previous partners Jessi Lelliott for looking after me like a big brother would. Josh Binstock it's like he's playing chess and poker on sand, he was the best I've seen at being able figure out what hitters wanted to do in any and every situation. He was so much fun to travel with and hang out with. Always cracking jokes and laughing together.  Rich Vanhuizen for helping me become a professional and taking a chance on me. We never recycled jokes because we were so original. Rich was one of the most fun people to be around and travel with. Playing with him was just a joy and never stressful. Ben Saxton has a tremendous work ethic. He's a player that knows what he wants and goes out and gets it. He is extremely focused on reaching his goals. Matty Z probably the biggest gamer around. Unbelievable how he was able to step up when it was game time and perform on command in tight situations.  Maverick Hatch biggest whip of an arm. He has all the skills of a 6 foot ball control player but he is 6'7 with long arms. It's super rare to see s guy of his size with that skill set.  Felipe Humana Paredes so athletic and so skilled it was a pleasure to play my last few years with him.

My sponsors RBC, Lululemon, Oakley, they have all been amazing to me and treated me like family over the years. I would especially like to thank Fred Koops and Overkill for all the help they have given me over the years. Overkill has always been a great homegrown Canadian brand and been a staple in the Canadian Volleyball scene. Freddy's commitment and support of not only myself but many amazing players over the years has been a huge boost to the Canadian beach volleyball scene. He is also a great landlord! haha

Thien Dang Tan at Omega for always making time to see me and treat me.

The last person I want to thank has had a huge impact on my life, I would argue almost as much as my parents have. John Child has taught me countless things not only in volleyball but in life, he has been a coach, a mentor, a friend and a brother to me. I certainly wouldn't have the life I have today if it wasn't for him so for that I owe him a lot. 

I got to do what I loved to do for a very long time and was super fortunate to be able to do it as a job, I feel extremely lucky. I missed one big goal of mine that was the Olympics, and a lot of the people I mentioned above put in a lot of time and effort into my career so I feel like I came up a little short and wish I could have achieved that for them.  Especially after being so close. I hope in time that will heal. I always had a great team around me (the people I mentioned above) and always felt supported especially when the politics of sports can be tough. I learned a lot through my career and am so thankful for the life it has provided for me and the people that I met over the years that have become my close friends and family.鈥

- Christian Redmann

NCAA: Nicolas Szerszen

NCAA: Nicolas Szerszen

For the second straight year the Ohio State Buckeyes defeated BYU in the NCAA final. Nicolas Szerszen lead the Buckeyes with 16 kills on 24 attempts, 8 digs, and one block. This year the Buckeyes captured the title in front of over 8200 fans at home at the St. John Arena in Columbus Ohio. Nicolas credits the success of the Buckeyes to their focus and preparation. 鈥淭here is only one reason: the hard work. It goes through taking each game as seriously and as important as the other. Coming early to get extra reps.鈥 Nicolas added 鈥淚 also think we all were a group of friends who enjoyed to play together.鈥 

Nicolas grew up in France and made the decision to attend Ohio State University to study engineering. If he had stayed in Europe he would have had to focus on playing professionally or continuing his studies. Ohio State was the perfect fit where he could continue his studies and compete at a high level with the Buckeyes. Nicolas isn鈥檛 the first player from the France National Team to have a great career in the NCAA. Kevin Tillie was a starting outside hitter for UC Irvine where he won two NCAA National Championships in 2012 and 2013 before joining the France National Team that won the 2015 World League. A bigger influence on Szerszen decision to join the NCAA was his sister Anna, who still ranks in the top 20 for career kills and points as member of the Ohio State Women鈥檚 Volleyball team from 2006-2010. 

鈥淭he NCAA is more physical. It's more of a power game I would say. The European game is more technical.鈥 

Nicolas started volleyball at age 6, which is early compared to many North American athletes. His high level of skill and knowledge of the sport can be seen with his hitting efficiency and his world class serves. In 2016 Nicolas was awarded the American Volleyball Coaches Association National Player of the Year while hitting .384, with 516 kills in 34 matches, adding 63 aces, 206 digs and 57 blocks. He is the first recipient in Ohio State鈥檚 history. Szerszen joins former winners and top international players Taylor Sander, Taylor Crabb, Kawika Shoji, and Matt Anderson. Nicolas has represented France on the U19 and U21 National Teams. It鈥檚 only natural to compare him to one of the best outside hitters in the world and fellow countryman Earvin Ngapeth. 鈥淗e's definitely a crazy player. He's doing things that are unseen and amazing. I think everyone should watch and learn as I do.鈥 

Nicolas is one of those rare athletes that has the million dollar arm, he can hit it an extraordinary high rate.鈥
- Coach Pete Hanson on Nicolas Szerszen鈥檚 serve. 

When asked about the Player of the Year Award Nicolas said 鈥淚t feels good to be recognized and I'm glad I could help my team.鈥 Nicolas has one year remaining at Ohio State where they will challenge for their third straight national championship. Looking at what he has accomplished already in the NCAA it will be exciting to see his performance in his senior year and how he transitions into his professional career. 

NCAA: Sophie Bukovec

NCAA: Sophie Bukovec

Sophie Bukovec added to her already impressive resume by winning her third straight NCAA Beach Volleyball National Championships with the USC Trojans. Bukovec graduates USC with a degree in sociology where she was named to the Dean鈥檚 List and won a Marks Scholar Award. Sophie has also won two PAC 12 Championships and been named an All American twice. Her overall record at USC was 103-3. 

Bukovec originally joined the NCAA as a member of the Long Beach State 49ers  indoor volleyball team where she helped win the NCAA Big West Championships. Before joining the NCAA Sophie played one year in the OUA at McMaster University. That season Mac won the OUA Championships. Bukovec won the Final 4 MVP, McMaster Rookie of the Year and was a member of the OUA All Rookie Team and OUA First Team All Star. On the beach Bukovec won the 2014 FIVB U21 World Championships with Tia Miric and the 2013 Canada Games with Ali Wooley.    

With so many accomplishments before she joined the Trojans it is impressive that Sophie continued to improve at such a high level, something she credits to the practice environment at USC. 鈥淧ractice at USC, is unlike any practice that I have ever been apart of. My coaches and teammates have created the most competitive environment that is still all about the learning process. How those two can co-exist so perfectly at our practices, still blows my mind.鈥 

The NCAA uses a best of 5 format for beach volleyball where each school ranks their teams 1 to 5 and you compete against the same ranked team from the other school. The first school to win 3 matches wins the dual. What some fans may not know is that teams can improve or lower their ranking based on exhibition matches against your teammates in practice. 鈥淗aving 5 separate pairs within a team creates an interesting dynamic. If you want to move up in your seeding, you have to consistently beat the pair above you. That brings out the fire in my teammates every practice. Every person on my team hates to lose more than they like to win.鈥 Add in the tradition of excellence at USC with guests such as April Ross and Misty May stopping by practice makes the environment at USC one of a kind. 鈥淚t has created the best environment for me to train in, being such a competitive person. I feel like I have improved so much at USC. I have been able to spend years out of my comfort zone. 鈥

Sophie isn鈥檛 the only international athlete to experience success in the NCAA. Canadians Megan and Nicole McNamara have experienced lots of success at UCLA. A total of seven international athletes competed at the 2017 National Championships. As the sport continues to grow in the NCAA look for more international stars to play their post-secondary careers in the NCAA. 鈥淭he sport is growing so rapidly in the U.S, with phenomenal coaches developing programs and creating strong competitive athletes. Many of the players in these top schools have competed in AVP鈥檚, NORCECA鈥檚, at World Championships for their respective country and some FIVB鈥檚.鈥 For any Canadians interested in pursueing a NCAA scholarship for beach volleyball Bukovec offers the following advice. 鈥淚t is definitely scary to drop everything that is familiar, and live in a completely new place for four years. But it is so worth it. You not only find yourself, but you will make long lasting memories and friendships that will stay with you for the rest of your lives. She also added 鈥淎 big thing that I learned while playing NCAA is that, you have the choice to create an environment that is right for you. Where you feel like you can improve, feel safe, feel comfortable, where you will make some of the best memories of your life. It is okay not to know what you want right away, but it is worth exploring!鈥

This summer Sophie will play with Olympian Jamie Broder. The pair won the latest Volleyball Canada Norceca Trials, earning the the right to represent Canada at the upcoming Norceca events. The pair will also travel on the FIVB World Tour. 鈥淚 have been lucky to have the opportunity to compete against some of the best beach athletes in the U.S every day at practice, which has definitely prepared me for the world tour. You learn to manage relationships, travel, prepare and compete which are all necessary to be successful on tour. I am excited to finally become a professional athlete and compete on the world tour.鈥

PREMIER LEAGUE: Week 2 Preview

PREMIER LEAGUE: Week 2 Preview

It's time for Week 2 of the ONE Volleyball Premier League! Last week's kick-off was a great start to the summer - but now it's time to get down to the nitty gritty

Madawaska Madmen vs. Investors Group (M)  - 7:00 pm ET

The Madawaska Madmen (1-0) opened the Premier League with an explosive win over Team ONE, but will face some competition for the Investors Group (0-1) in this week's match. 

The Madmen featured a two-headed attack led by outsides Joren Zeeman and Ray Szeto in their win last week, and have plenty more to offer with a stacked line-up that includes current Pros Erik Mattson as libero and Andre Brown in the middle. 

While the Investors Group suffered a loss last week, they proved they were going to be one of the grittiest teams in the league as the kept pace with the high-powered Unity offense last week despite rolling the lineup and trying some different pairings. Lucas Coleman led things with 14 points and a 64% efficiency while his former Ryerson Rams teammate Uchenna Ofoha added 13 including a massive 8 blocks at the net. 


Unity vs. Titans (W) - 7:00 pm ET

Two teams that started the Premier League on the wrong foot have a chance to even things up tonight!

Unity (0-1) fell 1-3 to Q2 Sports, including an embarrassing 25-12 fourth-set, and will be looking to prove they are one of the top teams to deal with. They were rolling their lineups quite a bit, so maybe we'll see them settle into their lineup a little more in Week 2. 

Led down the middle last week with Alley Newman scoring 11 and Ashley Simac adding 8, this team will be a handful if they can find some consistent scoring on the outside. 

The Titans will also be looking to bounce back from a less-than-stellar first week after falling quickly to Galaxy 3-0. Making an eye-opening 27 errors over three-sets, the Titans failed to get any type of rhythm going and had a paltry 28% efficiency at the net. Taylor Brisebois and Natalie Buck both threw down 8 points last week - numbers that are going to need to be much higher if the Titans want to avoid going 0-2.


Unity vs. ONE (M) - 9:00 pm ET

If any match tonight is going to be a slug-fest - it'll be when Unity (1-0) takes on Team ONE (0-1).

Unity kicked off the league by showing off their high powered offence to the World - and boy, did they deliver. Terrell Bramwell led the show with 19 points, while Oleh Kovalchuk added 17 with a 62% efficiency and #1 pick Steve Hunt chipped in with 15.

The scary thing? They were getting scoring from the entire lineup - even setter Aleksa Miladinovic picked up 7 points and libero Matt McGirr added 2 aces (yes, liberos can serve!). 

This match could also be the Battle of the Brothers - if ONE decides they want to play Taylor Hunt this week. In Week 1, Hunt who has a few professional seasons under his belt, found himself on the bench for the entirety of the match after showing up late (we presume). 

If Hunt is to play in the one - adding him to a lineup that already includes Jori Mantha and Alex Duncan-Thibault - ONE has the fire-power to go shot-for-shot with Unity. 


Q2 Sports vs. Galaxy (W) - 9:00 pm ET

One of these teams will leave Week 2 as the early Premier League favourites. But which one? 

Q2 Sports (1-0) and Galaxy (1-0) both threw down some strong performances in Week 1, and will need to back-it up big time this week. 

Q2 was dominant in their win over Unity last week - putting up the biggest offensive numbers of any of woman's teams in Week 1. Former UBC Thunderbird Carla Bradstock set a masterful game and added 8 points to the three-headed monster that was Danielle Walker, Lauren Stirling and Rebecca Glancy who scored 17, 13, and 12 respectively. 

For team Galaxy, the pairing of Stephanie Neville and Kelly Nyhof is already proving they can be the best one-two punch in the league. Neville led the way with 12 and Nyhof added - all with Veronica Livingston getting the majority of the sets and swinging an uncharacteristic 19% for only 5 points. Once the fiery redhead from Ryerson gets going - Galaxy will be a three-headed dragon that could be very difficult to deal with. 

FIVB: Canada Downs Belgium in World League Opener

FIVB: Canada Downs Belgium in World League Opener

The Maple Volleys got things started on the right foot yesterday with a 3-2 win over Belgium to open not only the 2017 World League in Group 1, but also the beginning of the Antiga era for the men's National team. 

Gord Perrin led the way in his first match as Captain with 21 points, while four other players reached double-digits; Ryley Barnes and Graham Vigrass both notched 17 while Dan Jansen van Doorn and Sharone Vernon-Evans put up 10 a piece. Barnes and Vernon-Evans were both making their first appearance at the International level, as was Brad Gunter who got his first start and chipped in with 7 points early on. Sharone, who's still only 18-years old, is the youngest Canadian to ever play in a World League match. 

It definitely wasn't the prettiest of matches the team has ever played, as the Maple Volleys made a whopping 40 errors over the course of five sets, but essentially dominated the Red Devils everywhere else. They out hit them 68-57 and out blocked them 13-5. Vigrass and Dan JVD had 3 a piece while Vernon-Evans threw down a couple. Although, serving practice might be in order as a cringey 21 serves were missed by the Maple Volleys. Ouch. 

Considering libero Blair Bann is the "oldest" on the team at 29 - this team is a much different squad than Canadian volleyball fans are used to seeing. With youth comes change, and generally change means a lot of unforced errors - just like we saw today.

But looking past that - if you're a fan of this team, you've got to be real excited after today's performance. It was a gritty performance against a Belgium side that wouldn't go away, and while their were more errors than seagulls at the beach, it wasn't a sloppy game to watch - just frustrating in the "oh look how close that was" and the "holy crap boys let's serve the ball over the net" type of way. 

The young guys really stepped up today and gave us a real good look at what the future looks like.  Ryley Barnes was rock solid for all five sets and it was hard to imagine this was his first international cap. He played the perfect P2 position - solid in serve receive, made some digs, and was a great outlet - scoring 14 times on 31 attempts. Brad Gunter, who started the match on the Right Side, was strong through the first two sets, scoring 7 times on 15 attempts with 3 errors. The lefty and former TRU product has a bazooka for an arm and can hit any shot with some heavy pace.

And for the 18-year old phenom - he looked right at home with the big boys and showed that he belonged.  His seven kills shouldn't be surprising to anyone who's seen him play before - but putting away that C-ball to close the 3rd was a big shot and is already showing the confidence setter TJ Sanders has in him. Despite his middle-esque frame, his defence wasn't a liability as he made 3 digs on 7 chances, and showed up big at the net on both occasions he was asked too. 

Next up for Team Canada is the USA at 10:00 a.m. ET on Saturday morning. Which is probably this morning unless you're reading this later in the week - than none of this matters to you and you should probably stop reading. But definitely go check out our World League page because I'm sure whatever you're looking for will be there! If not, feel free to send us a message on Facebook or Instagram or via email or on Twitter or through Snapchat. But those are the only places.