The University of the Fraser Valley men’s volleyball program has reloaded its roster, signing six new recruits in preparation for the 2018-19 campaign.
All six recruits hail from B.C., and five are 2018 high school graduates: outside hitters Shubdeep Wander (Mission), Jackson Obst (Kelowna) and Ethan Lapointe (Abbotsford), libero Elijah St-Germain (Surrey), and middle Andres Barrero. Additionally, setter Bobby Blaskovits (Kelowna) is transferring to UFV from Douglas College.
“This will be a good group for us,” Cascades head coach Kyle Donen said. “We needed to add depth in key areas for our team moving forward, and I think each guy has the potential to bring something significant to the table. I could see several of them making a major impact for us in the fall.”
6’2” setter, Kelowna, B.C.
Mount Boucherie Secondary / Douglas College
Injuries curtailed Blaskovits’s rookie year at Douglas – he saw action in two sets during 2017-18 PACWEST regular-season play and registered two assists. He was a highly decorated youth volleyball player, and was part of the Team B.C. program since the U16 level. Blaskovits was part of the B.C. 18U squad which won a bronze medal at the 2017 Canada Summer Games in Winnipeg. He served as captain of his club squad, Kamloops Volleyball Club, where his teammates included current Cascade Justin Peleshytyk and fellow Class of 2018 recruit Obst.
“He brings a lot of experience for a young setter, having played at the Canada Games against top-notch competition,” Donen said. “Unfortunately he wasn’t able to do much last year due to injury, but I’m confident he’ll get back to where he wants to be and help us in the years to come.”
“I’m looking forward to a fresh start and continuing my volleyball career as a Cascade,” said Blaskovits, who is enrolled in General Studies. “Can’t wait to join the team and get to work.”
6’2” outside hitter, Mission, B.C.
Wander, a highly dynamic attacker who can play on the left or right side, had a strong 2017 club volleyball campaign with the Fraser Valley Volleyball Club. He celebrated a pair of tournament titles, winning the Best of the West tourney in Calgary, along with B.C. provincials. Wander subsequently spent the 2018 club season playing for Donen with the Orangemen Volleyball Club.
“He’s a competitor,” Donen said of Wander. “He’s a very determined guy, and he played a lot of volleyball this past year, including a club season with me as his coach. I saw a lot of fire – he’s a guy who really wants to be out there and contribute, and I’m looking forward to him bringing that to our team. He has a natural arm that you just don’t see very often, and I think he’s really help us this year.”
“Ever since I started playing volleyball, all I wanted to do was play professionally as a career,” said Wander, who is launching his post-secondary academic career in UFV’s Bachelor of Science program. “Every decision has been made to further my progress towards that goal, and I believe that UFV is the best opportunity to accomplish that dream.”
5’10” outside hitter, Abbotsford, B.C.
Lapointe begins his post-secondary volleyball career with his hometown program. He was part of the Orangemen Volleyball Club squad coached by Donen, and drew his future university bench boss’s attention with his outstanding athleticism.
“I really like his physicality,” Donen enthused. “There’s some fine-tuning that we want to do to his game, but I like the physical start that he’s at and I’m excited to give him some new tools and perspective on what’s to come. Having coached him this year, I think he’s ready to adapt to the challenge that’s coming.”
“I had a couple of options as far as playing volleyball, but I chose UFV because, first, it was local and had a great reputation as far as its business program,” Lapointe explained. “Second, I had been coached by Kyle in my last year of club volleyball and felt that with Kyle as my coach, I would be able to become an even better player. I’ve also had the chance to meet a few of the current players at UFV and I get the sense that it’s a great team atmosphere and that’s something that’s important to me.”
5’7” libero, Surrey, B.C.
St-Germain was a standout for his Seaquam Seahawks, leading the team to a pair of fourth-place finishes at the B.C. AAA high school championships in 2016 and 2017. He earned a second team all-star nod in 2016, and was named the tournament’s most outstanding libero in 2017. He also earned all-star nods at the UBC and Camosun tourneys last fall. During the club season, St-Germain was part of a Fraser Valley Volleyball Club squad which won the Okanagan Super Series, Best of the West, and Fraser Valley Super Series, finished second at provincials, and won bronze at nationals.
“For the last two years, he’s been arguably one of the best liberos in B.C. for his age group,” Donen enthused. “I think his consistency has been proven, and I’m excited to see him at the next level. I think he’s got a bright future in our program, and he’s definitely going to add to the level of competition in our gym.”
“I chose UFV for the great variety of programs and for the opportunity to continue playing volleyball at the next level,” said St-Germain, who is enrolled in the Bachelor of Science program. “I’m very thankful to have the chance to be a part of a great team as well as to continue developing my skills as a volleyball player. I’m very excited for my future at UFV because I know I will have an amazing time playing the sport I love while studying something I’m passionate about.”
6’4” middle, White Rock, B.C.
Elgin Park Secondary
Barrero had a sparkling career at Elgin Park Secondary – two years ago he earned the school’s Grade 10 athlete of the year award, and last fall he led the Orcas to a sixth-place finish at the AAA provincial championship. On the club scene, he spent the summer of 2016 with Team B.C., picking up a silver medal at the National Team Challenge Cup. This spring, his joined forces with current Cascade Ian Jagersma to help the Seaside Volleyball Club win the provincial title and finish second at nationals. He also boasts a multisport background, having played tennis at a high level during his youth.
“The thing that’s impressed me the most about Andy is his resiliency,” Donen said. “He’s always been surrounded by really good players, and he’s always found a way to be very competitive amongst the group. No matter what the challenge, he’s always been ready to take it on. I’m excited to push him towards the new challenge that lays in front of him at UFV, and I’m looking forward to seeing what he can bring to us at the net.”
“The environment here is a lot of fun, and I really like that,” said Barrero, who will study business administration at UFV. “I want to give my best for the team.”
6’4” outside hitter/middle, Kelowna, B.C.
Obst, alongside future Cascade teammate Peleshytyk, was part of a Kelowna Owls squad which won silver at the 2016 B.C. AAA high school provincials. He earned male athlete of the year honours in grades 10 and 11 at Kelowna Secondary, and earned an all-star nod at the UBC tournament last fall.
“Similar to Andy, Jackson is really driven to take his career to the next level and challenge himself,” Donen said. “I know he’s really excited to be here and take that challenge head-on. He’s got a lot of athleticism to his game, and I’m looking forward to seeing what that looks like at the next level.”
“I chose UFV because I believe it to be a school that will equip me for my future journeys in life,” said Obst, who will pursue a Bachelor of Business Administration degree at UFV. “I hope to contribute to the men’s volleyball program as a talented player and teammate.”
– Bobby Blaskovits photo courtesy Paul Yates / Vancouver Sports Pictures