The University of the Fraser Valley men’s volleyball program has restocked its roster in preparation for another run at the PacWest conference title in 2016-17, and MEI grad Josh Fefchak is one of six new players set to join the team this fall.
Head coach Kyle Donen signed six new recruits: Fefchak, Douglas College transfer Matt Whittall, Luciano De Gianni from Langley and Surrey products Ian Lim, Graeme Hughes and Carter Bronson.
Fefchak knows a little something about winning – he was part of four B.C. high school championship squads (two junior, two senior AA) with the MEI Eagles, and lost only three games from Grade 8 to Grade 12 at MEI. He’ll enrol in general studies at UFV.
“He knows what it’s like to be part of a winning program, and any time you can add a kid who brings that mentality, it’s something you want,” Donen said. “He was an avid contributor to those teams, too – he wasn’t just a guy who sat on the bench and watched it happen. I think he’ll be a big contributor for us. The best thing I think he brings is his versatility. He can play on the outside, or in the middle. He’s a bit undersized for a middle, but he knows the position incredibly well, and if he had to be thrown in there, he’d figure it out.”
“I chose UFV to stay within the local community and to start a post-secondary education while staying close to family and friends,” Fefchak said. “I hope that with the Cascades I can grow as a young man while gaining an education and playing a sport I love.”
Donen said he’s excited about Fefchak and the other five new recruits.
“In some ways, it’s a bit of a youth movement,” Donen said. “I’m really excited about this group. It’s a strong group of personalities, and guys who are motivated to be part of this program. Each guy brings his own set of skills and personality, and I think all of them will be able to contribute in some way to our team. I’m anticipating some great things from them.”
Whittall averaged 0.50 points per set of total offence in limited action as a Douglas Royals freshman in 2015-16. He comes with a sparkling high school pedigree – as a senior at Elphinstone Secondary in Gibsons, B.C., he was ranked No. 12 on The Province newspaper’s Super 15 list of B.C.’s top senior boys volleyball players.
“I know he’s excited for the opportunity to contribute in a much bigger way this year, and we’re very fortunate to have a guy of his calibre and experience in our program,” Donen said of Whittall. “He knows a couple of the guys on our team, so I know he’ll fit in very well with our group.”
De Gianni helped his Langley Fundamental Titans author a memorable 2015 campaign – they won the silver medal at the B.C. AA high school championships. The towering middle has been part of a strong Fraser Valley Volleyball Club U18 squad this summer, earning a silver medal at club provincials and a fifth-place result at nationals.
“He brings us some good size at the middle position,” Donen said. “I think he’s a kid who’s got all the tools – he just needs to gain a bit of experience and a bit of confidence. His skillset will be very effective for us after he gains that understanding of what it takes to play at this level. He’s definitely a kid who loves the game, wants to know the game better, and asks a lot of questions. I think he’s going to be very effective for us this year.”
Lim, who plans to study business at UFV, was the MVP of Johnston Heights senior boys volleyball team last season.
“He’s a very hard worker, and I think he’s got a really good sense for the game,” Donen said. “I’m excited to see what kind of versatility and mindset he can bring to the next level. I think he’ll bring some depth at the setter position, and push our older guys to be on their mark.”
Hughes is a relative newcomer to the game of volleyball, having only started in the sport in Grade 11. One of the highlights of his senior season with the Elgin Park Orcas was earning team MVP honours at the Semiahmoo Secondary tournament.
“I coached him at one point when he was a little younger, and he’s taken huge strides,” Donen said of Hughes. “I think he has the right mentality to take his game to the next level. He’s got some skill which will be transferrable to this level, and I think it’s just a matter of him getting some experience.”
Bronson’s high school didn’t have a senior boys volleyball team either of the past two years, so he’s honed his skills under Donen’s tutelage in the spring and summer with the Orangemen Volleyball Club.
“He’s worked really hard the last two years, playing club volleyball and not high school,” Donen said. “He’s had to start from scratch during club season. The biggest thing for me is, I’m excited to see what he can bring in a whole season, which he basically hasn’t had the last two years. And for a kid who has less experience, he has great leadership ability.”
The players hit the court for the PacWest regular season starting in October.
For more information on the teams, visit ufvcascades.ca.