Historic year, so far, for Spartan alumni members

There’s been international volleyball success aplenty for graduated student-athletes from Langley’s Trinity Western University.

It may only be early August, but there’s already a strong, if not infallible, argument to be made that 2015 will go down as the most impressive year to date in the illustrious history of Trinity Western University volleyball.

With former Spartan Chaim Schalk (graduated in 2009) and his partner Ben Saxton claiming their first ever FIVB silver medal on the beach at the Yokohama Grand Slam and both Steven Marshall (’13) and Rudy Verhoeff (’12) helping Canada to a bronze medal at the Pan American Games last month, yet another couple of TWU-branded paragraphs were written in this year’s story of success.

Schalk’s efforts this past weekend pushed him and Saxton up to eighth in the FIVB World Tour Ranking while, at the Pan Am Games, Marshall and Verhoeff contributed to Canada’s first men’s volleyball medal since 1999.

This recent success comes on the heels of what has been an extraordinary year – one that includes Canada West and CIS gold medals for the TWU women’s team and Canada West and CIS silver medals for the men’s team – for both current and former Spartan volleyballers.

At the senior men’s level, TWU alumni accounted for five of the 25 players named to Canada’s FIVB World League squad this year. The quintet, which included Josh Howatson (’07), Dan Jansen Van Doorn (’13), Lucas Van Berkel (’14), Verhoeff and Marshall, helped Canada to a 6-6 record in round robin play.

The trio of Howatson, Verhoeff and Marshall also contributed to Canada’s qualification for the 2015 FIVB World Cup by helping Canada win the 2015 NORCECA Champions Cup. The Spartans contingent will now await the naming of Canada’s roster for the FIVB World Cup in Japan Sept. 8-23.

Meanwhile, the recently graduated Nick Del Bianco (’15) earned his first pro contract with SVG Lüneburg of the German Bundesliga this spring and, shortly thereafter, was named to Canada’s national B team. Since being named to the Canadian side, he has trained in Gatineau, Que. at the national training centre, as the team prepares to represent Canada in the Pan American Cup in Reno, Nevada Aug. 12-17.

Amongst current Spartans, Blake Scheerhoorn (Belleville, Ont.) made Canada’s national junior team and has already participated in two of the three tournaments his team is slated to compete in this year. Scheerhoorn helped Canada to a bronze medal at the U21 Pan American Cup in Gatineau in June before representing Canada at the 2015 Summer Universiade in Gwangju, South Korea in early July. Now, his team will prepare for the U21 FIVB World Championship in Mexico Sept. 11-20.

On the younger end of the Spartans spectrum, a pair of incoming TWU athletes have also stepped onto the international stage, as both Pearce Eshenko (Banff, Alta.) and Jacob Kern (Edmonton) represented Canada with the national youth team at the USAV HP Championships in Des Moines, Iowa. The team, which was coached by TWU coach Ben Josephson, finished fourth in the junior international division after posting a 5-3 record overall.

While TWU’s men’s team has certainly had its fair share of international representation, so too has the women’s team this summer.

Following its first ever CIS national championship, the Spartans saw five players make Canada’s entry for the 2015 Summer Universiade, including Alicia Perrin (’15), Kristen Moncks (’15), Elly Wendel (Caronport, Sask.), who was unable to play in the tournament due to an injury, Nikki Cornwall (Coquitlam, B.C.) and Sophie Carpentier (Ottawa). The Canadian side, which also featured TWU coach Ryan Hofer as the associate head coach, went on to finish sixth overall at the Summer Universiade.

Further to all that, Perrin was named Canada’s flag bearer for the Universiade and led her country into the opening ceremonies.

Upcoming international schedule

Indoor

FIVB World Cup (Japan) – Sept. 8-23

U21 FIVB World Championship (Mexico) – Sept. 11-20

Pan American Cup (Reno, Nevada) – Aug. 12-17

Beach

FIVB Long Beach Grand Slam (Long Beach, Calif.) – Aug. 18-23

FIVB Olsztyn Grand Slam (Olsztyn, Poland) – Aug. 25-30

Fort Lauderdale Swatch FIVB World Tour Finals Men (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) – Sept. 29-Oct.4

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