Team Canada has announced their roster for the 2018 World Championships in Italy & Bulgaria starting on September 12th.
Returns from Injury: Gord Perrin (Outside), Sharone Vernon-Evans (Opposite)
Injured: Ryley Barnes (Outside)
Headlining the roster is the return of Gord Perrin (Creston, BC) for the first time in 2018. Perrin’s been a cornerstone of the roster for a numbers of years and helped the Maple Volleys to a best-ever 7th placed finish in 2014 and Captained the team to their best-ever finish in the World League with a Bronze medal in 2017. Dominant in system, crafty in transition and solid in serve receive, at his best, he’s one of the best in the world.
Stephen Maar (Aurora, ON) is gearing up for his first World Championships. The powerful McMaster Marauder opened eyes in Italy and last year in the World League is gaining a name for hammering balls through the block. The 12th best scorer in this summer’s Nation League, Maar will carry a bulk of the load.
Nicholas Hoag (Sherbrooke, QC), one of the slickest players in the world is no stranger to the big stage. Starting at just 21-years old, he’s grown into one of the cornerstones of the roster. Time and time again he’s come through with big plays, and there’s little down
Jason DeRocco (Wiinnipeg, MB) is the glue that keeps it all together. The Manitoba native has had a few great seasons in the Polish Liga and has been a consistent contributor in the 2017 World League and 2018 Nations League. A canon arm makes him deadly from the baseline and even more lethal from the back row.
The reality is that any four of these guys could step up and carry the team at any point. With the gruelling schedule, the full rotation will be in use, and it’s likely we’ll see all four step up at some point or another.
The other notable return is 19-year old Sharone Vernon-Evans (Scarborough, ON). One of the big stories at the 2018 World League, he suffered in injury playing for Warsaw last season. Undergoing surgery in March - he got some solid reps throughout the two tune-up tournaments the team played in Poland and Slovenia, but the jury’s still out if he’s 100% healthy.
We’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg with Vernon-Evans, but if his 12’6.6” touch is any indication - we could be in for some of the same fireworks we saw in last year’s World League Final. With length that can only be compared to Kevin Durant, he’s a shut-down blocker who can cause nightmares for even the worlds elite. While his length in one thing - his natural volleyball IQ is surprising for someone his age. H
Paired up with Ryan Sclater - (Port Coquitlam, BC), the Maple Volleys have the ability to run two different looks depending who’s sitting on the right. The former Trinity Western Spartan showed his chops this summer during the Nations League - including a breakout weekend in Argentina that included a win over Italy. At 6’6 - Sclater is smaller on the right but runs it fast and has a lightning fast arm-swing. His speed will open up holes Sharone won’t have - forcing teams to change their game plans on the fly.
Blair Bann (Edmonton, AB) is one of the most fun players to watch in volleyball. With an infectious attitude, Bann is the energizer bunny that won’t stop and can be seen keeping plays alive game in and game out. The Best Libero of the 2017 World League - Bann has the respect of servers and attackers everywhere.
From the left to the right, now on to libero, Steven Marshall (Abbotsford, BC) can do it all. A natural athlete who’s known for his exceptional ball control - this former Spartan will be sure to frustrate a hitter or two in Bulgaria.
#1 TJ Sanders | Setter - London, ON
#2 Gord Perrin | Outside - Creston, BC
#3 Steven Marshall | Libero - Abbotsford, BC
#4 Nicholas Hoag | Outside - Sherbrooke, QC
#5 Lucas Van Berkel | Middle - Edmonton, AB
#7 Stephen Maar | Outside - Aurora, ON
#8 Jay Blankenau | Setter - Sherwood Park, AB
#9 Jason Derocco | Outside - Winnipeg, MB
#10 Sharone Vernon-Evans | Opposite - Scarborough, ON
#11 Dan Jansen van Doorn | Middle - Langley, BC
#16 Ryan Sclater | Oppodsite - Port Coquitlam, BC
#17 Graham Vigrass | Middle - Calgary, AB
#19 Blair Bann | Libero - Edmonton, AB
#20 Arthur Szwarc | Middle - Toronto, ON
The middle of the court will be patrolled by the same group that held down the fort during the Nations League. Graham Vigrass (Calgary, AB) will be the guy that controls is all. One of the best in business - Vigrass has too many tools to count. He reads setter like kids books and closes blocks like a glass door. His 13th-best 22 blocks in the Nations League is expected - while his 5th best 15 aces is the cherry on top. It’s not many middles that can lead a team in scoring - but that seems to be a regular occurence for Vigrass.
A pair of University teammates are sure to make an impact in their first World Championships. Dan Jansen van Doorn (Langley, BC) & Lucas van Berkel (Edmonton, AB) will go toe-to-toe with anyone. Dan JVD had a breakout Olympics and makes timely plays, and Lucas seems to show up just when you need him. Both will be seeing significant time and will need to come up big.
Arthur Szwarc (Toronto, ON) is a high-flier with the physicality to play with the best in the world. He’s still a little green - but watch out for bombs when he does come in.
Four years ago in Poland, TJ Sanders (London, ON) solidified himself as one of the up and coming setters to watch. Going into Bulgaria, there’s no doubt he’s reached that point. Not known for his flash, Sanders is known to be a magician at spreading the offence like butter on toast. His vision is among the elite, and the rhythm at which he runs the offence opens holes in even the best defence. On top of that, his leadership might be one of of biggest assets. Calm and analytical, his demeanour has pulled this team through more than a couple long matches.
If Jay Blankenau (Sherwood Park, AB) is on the court, make sure you’ve got your phone ready because you’re sure to see something you’ll like. From one-handed sets to his ability to go on-two, the Calgary Dino makes any hitter dangerous.