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Brad Gunter named Canada West MVP
The turnaround season of the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack men’s volleyball team has resulted in two of their top players being honoured.
Third-year outside hitter Brad Gunter of Courtenay has been named the Canada West Men’s Volleyball Most Valuable Player. He is the first WolfPack player ever to garner that honour. Gunter was also named a first team Canada West all-star.
Colin Carson (5th year, setter, Prince George, B.C.) has also been named the Canada West nominee for the Dale Iwanozko Student-Athlete Award. That award goes to a player who exhibits outstanding achievement in three areas: volleyball, academics and community involvement.
Carson was also named a second team Canada West all-star.
Gunter was the Canada West’s leading scorer (6.04 points per game) and kills leader (5.31 per game). He was third in service aces (0.40 per game) and had the top kills percent in a single match (5.31 points). He is seventh in the all time single season record for kills (356) in only 22 matches.
“Brad has been our security blanket this year,” said WolfPack head coach Pat Hennelly. “He always gets kills against solid double blocks. When he went down with an injury (he tweaked an ankle with two weeks to go in the regular season) we had trouble putting up points.
"When you have someone who has the dominant offensive number that Brad has, he always draws extra attention. He opens up holes for other guys. He has had a phenomenal year: above expectations for all of us," Hennelly said. "As a third year guy to put up six points a game and hit .299 kill efficiency for the year, being in the top 10 in aces and digs. It is great for Brad to be named MVP. It is an ongoing improvement process for Brad and I think the ceiling is still higher for him.”
Hennelly continued: “ We are excited for the MVP honour for Brad. His hard work and dedication has paid off. We think bigger and better stuff is ahead for Brad. His points per game and kill efficiency is a Canada West record.”
The coach believes Gunter’s ‘break out’ season was thanks in part to a starting role he had last summer with Canada’s Junior National Team. “When you get a chance to represent your country it is always a highlight. Brad didn’t make the team the previous year.
"He rededicated himself in the gym and increased his vertical. He focused in on improving all aspects of his game: serving, defence and blocking. That was huge. I think playing with and against some of the best players in the world helps your self-confidence. Brad doesn’t have a big ego about his talent: he is humble in his approach to the game. This summer saw him realize how good he is and how good he can be.”
Hennelly thanked National junior team head coach Dave Preston (McMaster University, OUA) and his coaching staff for helping direct Brad in the direction he is now.
Hennelly adds that it is fitting that both Gunter and Carson are being honored at the same time because they have worked so well together with the TRU offence this year. “Anytime someone is scoring points you have to look at who get the assist on the ball. Obviously, Colin led the league in assists. He gets to a lot of balls and makes quality sets from different parts of the court. For sure, a lot of Brad’s offensive success was a direct result of Colin. They have a good connection which has been built up over the last three years of playing together.”
SIDE OUTS: Canada West award winners are now finalists for national awards, to be handed out by Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) at the 2014 national championship, hosted Feb. 27 to March 1 at Jack Simpson Gym on the University of Calgary campus: http://english.cis-sic.ca/championships/mvball/index
– TRU WolfPack