Ketrzynski cleans up, six Rams earn conference honours
BURLINGTON, Ont. - This season has brought out some of the best and brightest talents the province has to offer, including those that have been doing it for years and those who made their mark in year one. Ontario University Athletics (OUA) is pleased to announce the 2018-19 men’s volleyball major award winners and all-stars, highlighted by a phenomenal rookie from Ryerson taking home multiple wins and a dynamic veteran from McMaster who bounced back from injury to take the conference by storm.
It’s one thing to contribute to a team in your first season, but another to step into a conference-leading role right away, but that is exactly what Xander Ketrzynski (Toronto, Ont.) did for Ryerson this year. In his debut campaign with the Rams, not only did he earn the East Division’s Rookie of the Year award, but also the division’s Player of the Year nod in leading his team to a 12-6 record.
In his first season, Ketrzynski found his name in and around the top of several offensive statistics. He was far and away the conference leader in kills per set (4.84) and total kills (329), racking up over 60 more than his closest competitor. He was also lethal from the service line, pacing the province in aces per set as well (0.59).
When all of that top-tier offensive production is taken into account, it’s no surprise that the Toronto native led the OUA in points per set as well. His 5.8 per set was over a point more than the second-ranked player, as the first-team all-star and all-rookie picked up a total of 392 on the year. This impressive campaign, which included four matches in which he eclipsed the 30-point plateau, was highlighted by a 33-kill, 35.5-point performance in the team’s penultimate game against Guelph.
While Ketrzynski was the focal point of the Rams this season, he wasn’t the only Ryerson player that turned in an award-winning year. In fact, five fellow Ryerson players garnered provincial recognition. Adam Sandeson (Lower Truro, N.S.) joins Ketrzynski on the first team, while Riley Anderson (Cambridge, Ont.) and Navreet Suhan (Mississauga, Ont.) earn second-team selections. Alongside the division’s top rookie, the Rams have another pair of reasons to look forward to what’s to come, as Saad Shaikh (Mississauga, Ont.) and Omari Young (Toronto, Ont.) have also earned all-rookie nods.
From a rookie to a veteran, the West Division’s Player of the Year made his mark in limited time on the court this year. Despite missing the first half of the season due to injury, McMaster’s Matt Passalent (Hamilton, Ont.) returned to the court with a vengeance down the stretch to not only power the Marauders to another top regular season result, but also earn the division’s top player nod for himself.
The former OUA all-rookie and now two-time first-team all-star was unstoppable as part of the vaunted maroon machine, racking up five points per set upon his return to go along with 3.97 kills per set. While he is not officially ranked in the categories due to his missed time, those impressive totals would have him at first and third, respectively, in the OUA. Not only was he a threat at the net, but his point contributions also came from the service line, where he poured in a league-best average of 0.68 aces per set, pounding home 21 in total.
Flanking Passalent on the left side, meanwhile, is a former Player of the Year (2017-18), who has not only shone on the court this season – picking up a third-straight first-team all-star nod – but off of it as well. This year’s West Division Dale Iwanczko Award of Merit recipient is Andrew Richards (London, Ont.), and while a great deal can be said about his on-court ability – wherein he averaged 4.2 points, 3.36 kills, and 0.51 service aces per set – the fifth-year senior put just as much work in around his school and community as well.
A member of McMaster’s leadership council and designated captain during matches, Richards’ ability to lead is prominent to say the least; a trait that he was also recognized for with the Wilson Scholar Leadership Award. He is a two-time Academic All-Canadian and beyond the classroom, has also dedicated his time and efforts into initiatives like the Dress for Success campaign, which recycles business-wear for underprivileged men to re-enter the work force, and Motion Ball, which allows youth with physical disabilities to participate in sport.
The aforementioned pair represent McMaster’s first-team contingent, but the accolades don’t stop there for the nation’s fourth-ranked squad. Picking up a second-team selection is left side Craig Ireland (Beamsville, Ont.), who enjoyed career-high usage the season to go along with a career-best .222 hitting percentage. Joining the trio of seniors as a conference standout in his own right, meanwhile, is Tyler Pavelic (Oakville, Ont.), who turned his first foyer into university volleyball into an all-rookie nod.
While Mac’s all-star collection powered them to the West’s top seed, the Gaels saw a bevy of representation among the province’s crème of the crop carry them to the top of the East. Behind first-year head coach Gabriel de Groot, the Gaels were able to top the standings with a record of 15-3. Under the tutelage of the Coach of the Year, the Gaels were among the most dynamic at both the net and service line. The Tricolour topped the conference in total kills (871) and saw similar ranks in total aces (144) and aces per set (1.97). The offence was truly on point in de Groot’s first season at the helm, performing at a top-ranked clip of 1135.5 points for the year (1st in OUA).
One of the team’s key contributors in this offensive onslaught was outside hitter Zac Hutcheson (Kingston, Ont.). The first-team all-star picked up a top-five mark of 3.64 kills per set, pouring in 266 on the year, and did so at an efficient rate with one of the best percentages in the league (.312; T3rd in OUA). But the hometown star also gave it his all off the court, both within and beyond the sport of volleyball.
The third-year player is a volunteer coach with the Pegasus Volleyball Club 18U boys – a team he has been working with since they were in the 16U category – and a guest coach with both Molly Brant Elementary School and Mother Teresa Elementary. Hutcheson has also worked to launch a Kingston summer development camp to provide youth volleyball athletes an opportunity to train year-round.
Even with his dedication to give back, Hutcheson still holds a 3.65 GPA in engineering and was a 2018 Academic All-Canadian. The team’s captain has also been a two-time Dean’s Scholar and was awarded the Principal’s Scholarship for his first two years at Queen’s. Clearly, Hutcheson gives it his all no matter the setting, making him a deserving recipient of the East Division’s Dale Iwanczko Award of Merit.
One of the key Gaels players that helps Hutcheson and others to thrive on the court is Zane Grossinger (Richmond Hill, Ont.). The sophomore has returned from a Rookie of the Year season to once again anchor an aggressive Gaels offence. While the team is the leader in assists, Grossinger, himself, ranks second in Ontario with just under 10 assists per set, and the first-team all-star is a big reason why another three of his teammates have earned provincial recognition.
Rounding out the Kingston squad’s recipients are Adam Bolijkovac (Edmonton, Alta.) and Dylan Hunt (Sharon, Ont.) on the second team and Shane Gabel (Winnipeg, Man.) on the all-rookie squad.
Another of the conference’s top contenders this season was the Western Mustangs, and based on their collection of awards this season, this status might very well continue for the foreseeable future. Highlighting the team’s 13-win season was the West Division Rookie of the Year, Jackson Bere (Toronto, Ont.). The first-year middle picked up 2.22 kills per set on the year thanks to a hefty hitting percentage of .421 (1st in OUA). His 2.9 points per set were good enough for fourth on the team, while his 57 total blocks and 0.89 block-per-set average set him well above the rest of his Mustangs teammates and in the top-10 provincially.
Bere may have been the anchor in the middle for the purple ponies, but he wasn’t the only weapon that Western unleashed this year. Along with their first-team all-star and all-rookie, the Mustangs are also represented by Matt Hooker (Winnipeg, Man.) and Nathan Phelps (London, Ont.), who claim spots on the first and second team, respectively. The former led the conference in assists per set (10.63), while the latter was the OUA’s top performer in digs per set (2.72), generating an impressive 174 on the season.
At the helm of the purple and white’s talent-laden roster is the West Division’s Coach of the Year recipient. With a roster like Jim Sage has in London, the success makes sense, but under his guidance, the Mustangs have managed to produce top marks in kills per set (12.58), assists per set (11.77), and digs per set (10.50), all while racking up an impressive average of 16.3 points (2nd in OUA). With gaudy numbers like this, the team’s 13-win season, which included a six-game winning streak to close out the regular season, has been well-earned.
A pair of Windsor Lancers have turned in another season of success, and after showcasing their skill set on both sides of the ball, have earned first-team recognition this year. The now two-time all-star, Pierce Johnson (Chatham, Ont.) and three-time all-star John Moate (Oakville, Ont.) are among the best at their crafts. The former offers up one of the most dynamic offensive attacks in the game, as evidenced by his .319 hitting percentage (2nd in OUA), 3.75 kills per set (4th in OUA), and 268.5 total points (5th in OUA). The latter, meanwhile, is among the most menacing in the middle, as the reigning U SPORTS All-Canadian topped the league in blocks per set (1.17) and total blocks (70), while ranking fourth overall in solo blocks (22).
Brock’s Logan House (Barrie, Ont.) rounds out the first-team representatives after last year’s top rookie found another new gear for the St. Catharines squad this season. House is among the best in the business in kills per set (4.26; 2nd in OUA) and racked up over 540 total attacks on the year as the Badgers’ offensive focal point. House’s nearly five points per set (4.8) put him at second in the conference and he does his damage with a .253 hitting percentage.
Another pair of Badgers had their name called for the second team, as Marcelo Correa (Indaiatuba, Brazil) and Peter Schnabel (Freiburg, Germany) have earned all-star recognition, while Ethan Kalef (Ottawa, Ont.) and Mark Naqvi (Pickering, Ont.) show that the future remains bright in Niagara with their all-rookie status.
The same outlook can be seen in Waterloo, meanwhile, as the black and gold also have a pair of representatives on this year’s all-rookie team. The Warriors saw potent production from the first-year contingent this season, and leading the charge was the team’s point-leader, Nolan Spencer (Kitchener, Ont.). The rookie picked up 3.1 per set for Waterloo, while also leading the club in kills per set (2.60) and total attempts (359), putting him right in the thick of the Warriors’ game-plan both in 2018-19 and for years to come. Fellow outside hitter Bennett Newell (Brussels, Belgium) has also garnered all-rookie recognition for the Warriors, while Matthew Mawdsley (London, Ont.) turned his .396 hitting percentage and 2.1 points per set into a second team selection.
Like Waterloo, a trio of Guelph Gryphons have been recognized for their 2018-19 seasons, including the final two members of the West Division’s second team. Zach Newman (Kitchener, Ont.) and Zarko Ubiparip (Kitchener, Ont.) each earned over 2.5 kills per set, with the former doing so on a .237 hitting percentage. Newman also connected on 0.41 service aces per set, and along combined his Ubiparip, the two left sides accounted for an average of 6.5 points per set for the Gryphs. Together, the dynamic duo ranked first and second for Guelph in scoring, and they can thank the strong setting game of Gideon Dresser (La Salle, Man.), an all-rookie member, for much of that, as the rookie setter accumulated 6.89 assists per set in his first season of OUA volleyball.
Flipping back to the East Division, Varsity Blues Jordan Figueira (Oakville, Ont.) and Chris Towe (Toronto, Ont.) were named first-team all-stars, while first-year standout Evan Falardeau (Stratford, Ont.) was named to the all-rookie team.
A third-year setter, Figueira earns his second straight all-star nod in 2018-19 after also earning Rookie of the Year honours two years back. The commerce major ranked third in the province, averaging 9.94 assists per set, while also sitting second in the OUA with 39 service aces. Figueira notched over 40 assists in eight matches, while also recording a career-high 55 in a 3-2 win at Queen’s in November. Towe, meanwhile, joined the Blues as a fourth-year transfer from the Alberta Golden Bears, and made an immediate impact on his new roster with his 3.14 kills and 3.6 points per set. Falardeau, the Blues top rookie, had a breakout first season with the Toronto, leading the team with with 3.16 kills and 3.7 points per set.
Another squad from the GTA has earned a spot on the first team and all-rookie team, courtesy of Logan Mend (Narumata, B.C.) and Dan Everton (Penticton, B.C.), respectively, but the York Lions also added a second-team all-star to the list with Andrew Tauhid (Toronto, Ont.).
Mend, now a three-time first-team all-star, has been a steady presence in the setter position since his second year at York and this season was no different. In 2018-19, the fifth-year player ranked eighth in the OUA with 8.63 assists per set, third in service aces with 34, and tied for first among setters with 1.3 points per set as well. Tauhid, meanwhile, went from all-rookie to all-star for the red and white this year thanks in large part to his athleticism on the court. The sophomore was York’s leading scorer with 3.9 points and 3.48 kills per set, while also chipping in with 80 digs and 18 service aces on the year. Based on these aforementioned performances, the team’s back-up setter, Everton, will certainly be looking to follow in his all-star teammates’ footsteps as he continues in his Lions career.
Like Mend, Nipissing’s Steve Wood (Newcastle, Ont.) has been an OUA all-star throughout his university career, and his fifth season was no different. The second team selection from the East Division led the Lakers in points, kills, points per set, kills per set, and digs in 2018-19, showing that he is the driving force behind the Nipissing offensive attack. A key contributor on the defensive side, meanwhile, was all-rookie recipient Zack Thibeault (Gatineau, Que.), who finished second on the team in digs and one of the team’s top receivers of serve all year from the libero position.
The final squad to see one of their own earn all-star honours is the RMC Paladins, who are represented on the second team by Dale Towe (Caledon, Ont.). The decorated outside hitter put a feather in the cap of his four-year university career that started with provincial and national all-rookie honours in 2015-16 and wraps up his post-secondary efforts as the school’s all-time leader in kills (773) and points (88.5).
The complete list of 2018-19 men’s volleyball major award winners and all-stars is below:
East Division Major Awards
Player of the Year – Xander Ketrzynski, Ryerson
Rookie of the Year – Xander Ketrzynski, Ryerson
Dale Iwanczko Award – Zac Hutcheson, Queen’s
Coach of the Year – Gabriel De Groot, Queen’s
West Division Major Awards
Player of the Year – Matt Passalent, McMaster
Rookie of the Year – Jackson Bere, Western
Dale Iwanczko Award – Andrew Richards, McMaster
Coach of the Year – Jim Sage, Western
East Division All-Stars
First Team All-Stars
Xander Ketrzynski, Ryerson
Jordan Figueria, Toronto
Zane Grossinger, Queen’s
Zac Hutcheson, Queen’s
Logan Mend, York
Adam Sandeson, Ryerson
Chris Towe, Toronto
Second Team All-Stars
Riley Anderson, Ryerson
Adam Bolijkovac, Queen’s
Dylan Hunt, Queen’s
Navreet Suhan, Ryerson
Andrew Tauhid, York
Dale Towe, RMC
Steve Wood, Nipissing
Xander Ketrzynski, Ryerson
Dan Everton, York
Evan Falardeau, Toronto
Shane Gabel, Queen’s
Zack Thibeault, Nipissing
Saad Shaikh, Ryerson
Omari Young, Ryerson
West Division All-Stars
First Team All-Stars
Matt Passalent, McMaster
Jackson Bere, Western
Matt Hooker, Western
Logan House, Brock
Pierce Johnson, Windsor
John Moate, Windsor
Andrew Richards, McMaster
Second Team All-Stars
Marcelo Correa, Brock
Craig Ireland, McMaster
Matthew Mawdsley, Waterloo
Zach Newman, Guelph
Nathan Phelps, Western
Peter Schnabel, Brock
Zarko Ubiparip, Guelph
Jackson Bere, Western
Gideon Dresser, Guelph
Ethan Kalef, Brock
Mark Naqvi, Brock
Bennett Newell, Waterloo
Tyler Pavelic, McMaster
Nolan Spencer, Waterloo