Canadian Interuniversity Sport, in conjunction with Volleyball Canada, announcedÂ the 14 student-athletes who will represent Canada in men’s volleyball at the 26th Summer Universiade from August 12-23, 2011, in Shenzhen, China.
The Red and White roster is comprised exclusively of CIS standouts including six all-Canadians from the past season. Highlighting the selection are reigning CIS player of the year Graham Vigrass from the University of Calgary, CIS championship MVP Rudy Verhoeff from national champion Trinity Western, as well as libero of the year Blair Bann from UBC.
Vigrass, a native of Calgary who represented Canada at the 2009 junior world championship in India, has been phenomenal over the last two university campaigns. The 6-foot-8 middle was named CIS championship MVP in 2010 after he led the Dinos to their first national title in 17 years and earned player-of-the-year honours this season as he guided the U of C to the Canada West banner and a CIS bronze medal. He is the Canada West nominee for the BLG Award which will be presented to the CIS male athlete of the year on May 16.
Verhoeff, who hails from Victoria, was named to the second all-Canadian unit this year before leading the Spartans to CIS gold. The 6-foot-6 left side hitter was chosen game MVP after each of the three Trinity Western victories at the CIS tournament.
Bann was named CISâ€™ top libero three times during his Thunderbird career. The 6-foot Edmonton native is one of two returning players from the 2009 Universiade in Belgrade, Serbia, along with Dalhousie left side Sander Ratsep of London, Ont.
Rounding out the roster for the Shenzhen Games are setters Jay Blankenau of Sherwood Park, Alta., and Ciaran McGovern of Grande Prairie, Alta., both from the Calgary Dinos; Queenâ€™s Joren Zeeman of Cambridge, Ont., and Albertaâ€™s Spencer Leiske of Lacombe, Alta., on the right side; McMaster middle Tyler Santoni of Kingston, Ont.; Lavalâ€™s Karl De GrandprĂ© of Pierreville, Que., Trinity Westernâ€™s Marc Howatson of Victoria, Manitobaâ€™s Chris Voth of Winnipeg and UNBâ€™s Jacob Kilpatrick of Saint John, N.B., on the left side; and Laval libero Pierre-Alexis Lapointe of La Malbaie, Que.
Nine of the 14 players heading to China were already on the national B team last summer including Vigrass, Verhoeff, Bann, Blankenau, McGovern, Zeeman, De GrandprĂ©, Howatson and Lapointe.
Canada is coming off a sixth-place finish in 2009 in Serbia, which marked the countryâ€™s third best finish in menâ€™s volleyball at the world university games trailing only a pair of silver medals claimed in 2007 in Bangkok, Thailand, and in 1983 in Edmonton.
In Shenzhen, the Canadians will compete in the preliminary round in Pool A against host China, Switzerland, Australia and Norway. The tournament will run from August 12-22 (detailed schedule to be released at a later date).
The defending Universiade champion is Russia, which overcame a two-set deficit to edge Canada 3-2 in a thrilling quarter-final match in Belgrade.
Before heading to China, Team Canada will play exhibition matches from June 5-10 in Gatineau, Que., against the selections from Brazil and Argentina that will participate in the Pan Am Cup. The Canadians will then fly to Slovenia in mid-July to continue their preparation.
Canadaâ€™s coaching staff for the Universiade was announced on April 12.
Acting as head coach will be two-time CIS coach of the year Larry McKay from the University of Winnipeg. McKay, who has been at the helm of the Wesmen for 22 seasons, was Canadaâ€™s head coach at the 2001 under-21 world championship.
His assistants will be Ben Josephson from reigning CIS champion Trinity Western and Steve Leknois from the Royal Military College.
TEAM CANADA ROSTER
Position – Name – Height (cm) – University – Hometown
Setter Jay Blankenau 194 Calgary Sherwood Park, Alta.
Setter Ciaran McGovern 183 Calgary Grande Prairie, Alta.
Right Side Joren Zeeman 203 Queenâ€™s Cambridge, Ont.
Right Side Spencer Leiske 204 Alberta Lacombe, Alta.
Middle Graham Vigrass 205 Calgary Calgary, Alta.
Middle Tyler Santoni 203 McMaster Kingston, Ont.
Left Side Karl De GrandprĂ© 197 Laval Pierreville, Que.
Left Side Sander Ratsep 196 Dalhousie London, Ont.
Left Side Marc Howatson 202 Trinity Western Victoria, B.C.
Left Side Rudy Verhoeff 199 Trinity Western Victoria, B.C.
Left Side Chris Voth 196 Manitoba Winnipeg, Man.
Left Side Jacob Kilpatrick 207 UNB Saint John, N.B.
Libero Pierre-Alexis Lapointe 184 Laval La Malbaie, Que.
Libero Blair Bann 184 UBC Edmonton, Alta.
Position – Name – University – Hometown
Head coach Larry McKay Winnipeg Winnipeg, Man.
Assistant Ben Josephson Trinity Western Strathmore, Alta.
Assistant Steve Leknois RMC Kingston, Ont.
The Universiade menâ€™s volleyball tournament will run from August 12-22. The detailed schedule will be announced at a later date.
Pool A: China, CANADA, Switzerland, Australia, Norway
Pool B: Russia, Ukraine, Japan, South Africa, Iran, Oman
Pool C: Brazil, South Korea, Sweden, Hong Kong, Israel
Pool D: Czech Republic, Turkey, USA, United Arab Emirates, Mexico, Thailand
CANADAâ€™S BEST RESULT AT THE UNIVERSIADE:
2007 (Bangkok, Thailand): Silver medal
1983 (Edmonton, Canada): Silver medal
CANADAâ€™S RESULTS AT RECENT UNIVERSIADES (LAST 5):
2009 (Belgrade, Serbia): 6th (3rd best result in history)
2007 (Bangkok, Thailand): Silver medal
2005 (Izmir, Turkey): 10th
2003 (Daegu, South Korea): 7th (4th best result in history)
2001 (Beijing, China): 14th
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