The first semester of CIS volleyball is coming to a close, and rookies across the country are adapting to a new team, new systems, and a new level of dedication. In no particular order, here are a few that have started their CIS careers running.
Adam Schriemer - Trinity Western
Being a first-year setter may be one of the toughest realities in the world of volleyball. To step up and run a team’s offense is a daunting task for anyone fresh out of the club system, but Trinity Western’s Adam Schriemer has done just that.
The 6’7” setter from Winnipeg has already played in 21 of 24 sets for the Spartans and seems to have won the starting position over second-year Scott Plocktis. Schriemer got the nod in both matches against Alberta over the weekend.
One thing you notice about most first-year players is their size; generally the lack of it. Schriemer already looks like a much older player, as he physically looks like he’s been at Trinity for a few years already.
The first-year has already tallied 173 assists, only good enough for 17th in the CIS at the moment, but we have a feeling that this kid will be among the top athletes in the country for the next few years.
Adam DeJonckheere - Manitoba
While they might share the same name, Manitoba Bison rookie Adam DeJonckheere is a completely different beast then his Spartan colleague. Weighing no more than 180 pounds (and trust us, even that’s pushing it), and sporting the infamous ‘Bieber flow’, Adam DeJonckheere looks like he should probably still be in high school.
But man can he put the ball away.
VSM first got a look at him when he was playing for Team Manitoba at the Canada Games. He came in for Manitoba in the 3rd set of their quarterfinal against BC, and pretty much had an immediate impact, scoring points and helping Manitoba force a 5th set, where they lost 15-13 to the eventual bronze medalists.
DeJonckheere has continued that run against some of the best players in the country, with 91 kills in six matches for the Bisons, and averaging 3.37 kills/set, this former member of Winnipeg’s 204 Club is already making headlines. Oh, did we mention that his 100 points is good enough for 8th in the CIS?
Keith West - Calgary
This first-year from Lethbridge isn’t putting up the big numbers like his colleagues have been, but Keith West has been holding it down on the outside for the Dinos this year.
He’s played in 24 of 29 sets for Calgary, and already racked up 43 kills, while fighting for a spot on the court for the only team guaranteed a spot at Nationals in March. If West can keep it up, he may play some very big minutes for a team poised to surprise some people this year.
Leah Shevkenek - Regina
If there’s one bright spot so far this year for the Regina Cougars, it’s first-year setter Leah Shevkenek.
The rookie from Calgary has stepped into the starting rotation without even missing a beat. Winning a gold medal at the Canada Games this summer helped, as she’s stepped in and ran the offence for the Cougars in every match this season.
Already she sits fourth in the CIS with 253 assists, and is sixth with 9.73 assists/set. She’s also added 8 aces from the baseline.
If Regina is looking for a player to build a team around, it looks like they may have found the one.
Vaovai Aiono - Brandon
Brandon Bobcats have raced out of the gate to start the season at 5-1, their only loss came in a weekend split to Alberta.
Vaovai Aiono has most definitely had her hand in that. Although it’s tough to call her a rookie considering she has already played internationally as a member of the New Zealand national team, Aiono has already put up some pretty good numbers.
Through six matches, Aiono sits in third on the Bobcats with 49 kills, averaging 2.33 kills/set. She’s also been effective from the baseline, with eight aces already on the season.
Janna Ogle - Calgary
This first-year hailing from Edmonton has been making a name for herself for the Dinos this year.
She sits third in team scoring with 47 kills so far, only one behind teammate Emma Pederson, who has played in six more sets than Ogle. Her 2.47 kills/set, on the other hand, is good enough for second on the team.
After losing five starters, there’s no question that the Dinos are looking to rebuild, but with the addition of Ogle to the already very impressive second-year Ali Woolley, Calgary is looking to be one of the teams to beat in the next few years.
Sophie Bukovec - McMaster
It’s hard to believe that Sophie Bukovec is only a rookie in the CIS. With a few FIVB and NORCECA beach events under her belt, and a Canada Games beach volleyball gold medal around her neck, this first-year for the McMaster Marauders definitely comes with an impressive resume.
With 71 kills through five matches, she leads all rookies so far in pretty much every offensive department. She’s averaging 3.74 kills/set, as well as 4.3 points/set, categories in which she sits eighth in the country.
She’s lead her team in scoring in four of six matches this year, including a 26 point performance in a 3-1 loss to Windsor.
Kate Lonergan - Toronto
Although not a true rookie as she was a red-shirt for the Varsity Blues last year, Kate Lonergan has come in and played like a veteran for a team right in the thick of things in the competitive OUA East.
The libero from North Vancouver has already racked up 102 digs, placing her third in the country, and is averaging 4.25 digs/set, putting her eighth in the CIS.
What is more impressive from Lonergan is her attitude on the court. Her energy and poise on the court would indicate a veteran player with multiple years of experience; rather than a first-year who has barely taken her first steps in the CIS.
Aleks Arsovic - York
This first-year from Oakville has been more than steady so far this year for the undefeated York Lions.
Pacing herself with 58 kills and 58 digs so far, Arsovic has made an impact both offensively and defensively for the No. 5 Lions.
Arsovic led York in their second match of the year, a 3-1win over Waterloo, when she scored 15 points; all of them kills, and hit a .353.
Adam Anagnostopoulos - Ryerson
The Ryerson Rams were a big question mark in the OUA this year. Sure, they still had Rob Wojcik, but with the loss of setter Aleksa Miladinovic to Toronto, Ryerson definitely could have flourished or plummeted.
Luckily for them, in came Anagnostopoulos, and the ability to calmly run an efficient offence, which has allowed him to amass a cool 243 assists so far this season, good enough for sixth in the CIS.
Jeff Ardon - Ryerson
It's tough to justify having two players from the same team on this list, but the way both of them are playing at the moment it would be hard to omit either of them. Much like Anagnostopoulos, Ardon had some big shoes to fill. Not only has he filled them, they may even be too small.
He's played in every set this year for the Rams, and has put up some serious numbers already. He’s one of the most efficient hitters in the CIS, hitting a .462, not to mention sits fifth in the CIS with 15 solo blocks.
Pawel Jedrzejewski - McMaster
Pawel Jedrzejewski has quietly been having a solid season for the No. 2 McMaster Marauders. The rookie libero has played in every set this year for the Marauders, and has committed only one error so far this year. The way he's playing, the fact that not many have noticed him is a gigantic compliment, because it means he's being consistently solid for one of the top teams in the country.
While he's only racked up 23 digs this year, he is leading McMaster in that department. Considering the Marauders have won all of their games but one in straight sets, and the way they've dominated most matches, we're not entirely surprised that their just aren't that many balls to dig.
Matthew Donovan - Dalhousie
The AUS is well on it's way to one of it's best showings yet, as they dominated the RSEQ in the first Interlocking weekend. One factor leading this is veteran squads at both UNB and Dalhousie, but there is one rookie who is getting starting minutes in the AUS.
Matthew Donovan has stepped in nicely for the Tigers this year, and while he hasn't been as immediately dominant as some of the others on the list, he's most definitely already proved that he belongs.
The London, Ontario native has racked up 36 kills throughout 7 matches this year, hitting a sweet .492 so far this year. Add 13 blocks to that, and those stats aren't anything to bat an eye at.
Desiree Nouwen is another who's only a rookie in theory, but we'll give it to her anyways.
This international student from The Netherlands who has already played semi-pro back home has transitioned very well so far playing for the Tigers. Although they've played a league fewest five matches, her 4.19 kills/set is 2nd best in the CIS, while her 4.9 points/set puts her in 3rd. She can get it done on the defensive side of the game too, as she sits in 12th nationally with 3.75 digs/set.
Rachel Windhorst - St. Mary's
On the complete opposite side of the country from where she grew up, Rachel Windhorst doesn't seem to be affected by the change of scenery. The Surrey native is leading the No. 10 St. Mary's Huskies offensively this season with 54 kills, and averaging 3.18 kills/set. We're not saying she's the reason, but she's most definitely a big part of the Huskies’ success this season.