Half of the Canada West (CW) men’s volleyball major awards will find their homes with the country’s top-ranked Trinity Western Spartans.
The Spartans’ savvy and inspirational setter, Derek Epp, has been named the player of the year after leading a dynamic, offensive team to a 15-1 record on the regular season.
Coach Ben Josephson shared that a year ago Epp was not able to train two days in a row and nobody knew what the illness was. Epp was told he would never play competitive volleyball again.
“Now, he’s the player of the year,” commented the coach.
“The way he overcame that is why he is the player of the year.”
Epp came back more resilient than ever, not just to the sport but rising to claim the conference’s top honour.
The versatile athlete led primary setters in points per set, combining his intelligence and creativity in a fun style to watch.
“He’s so focused and he knows exactly what he’s trying to do, but he’s very adaptable in creating on the fly,” said the coach.
The man who created that offensive team, Josephson himself, earned the nod as the conference’s top coach for the fourth time in his CW career. He earned the award after leading his Spartans to a near-perfect record on the season.
Jeff Gamache, athletic director of Trinity Western Spartans, praised the coach.
“Ben has so many incredible qualities as a coach. He connects with his athletes, he is technically brilliant, and he has a tremendous work ethic. But perhaps the thing that stands out the most this year is his creativity.”
Josephson assembled and employed a “rare” 6-2 system that utilizes his athletes’ unique talents in the most effective way possible.
The result: a fear-invoking team that can quickly beat down the will of their opponents.
Josephson’s Spartans, who went 15-1 on the regular season, led the conference in hitting percentage. Gamache said that he could not be more grateful for the impact Josephson has made on the legacy of the sports program.
He led his team to boast the highest hitting percentage in the conference while individually converting on half his attempts.
Trinity Western is now preparing to host the Final Four (Brandon, Alberta and Calgary) this weekend. The championship match is set for Saturday, with the semi-finals going Friday.
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