Men's volleyball announces four recruits

Nigel Mullan | Jul 18, 2011

The Briercrest Clipper men’s volleyball team has added some young talent to replace the graduating veterans from last season’s ACAC championship squad.

Head coach Nigel Mullan, has signed Steven Guenther, Kyle Pankratz, Steven Klassen, and Aubry Poulin for the 2011-12 season.

“We are adding players that are going to provide depth to our lineup and contribute to the momentum that the program has been building over the last couple of seasons,” Mullan said. “We are adding players from all over Canada and they will continue to help bring attention to our program.  These players will be ambassadors for us as we look to continue to grow our program.”

<strong>Steven Guenther</strong>
Steven Guenther comes to the Clippers from Springfield, MB, where he attended Springfield Collegiate High School and competed for the Sabres volleyball team.

The 6’ 3” left side hitter has had some great success since he began playing in Grade 6.

He competed for the Winman Volleyball Club out of Winnipeg, MB for his 15U and 16U seasons, and then won a bronze medal at the Canadian National Club Volleyball Championships for his 17U season, competing with the Selkirk Royals Volleyball Club. Guenther was named Manitoba Player of the Year for his 16U season and also MVP of the Manitoba provincial championships that same year.

Jim Schreyer, Guenther’s coach with Selkirk, believes Briercrest is getting a great athlete.

“Steve hit one of the heaviest balls in the province for his graduating Grade 12 year,” Schreyer said. “He is a very strong athlete who passes the ball very well as a left side attacker. Steve also brings to the team some very good leadership qualities being a team captain or co-captain on most teams he played on in club or high school.”

Guenther was honored as a Manitoba High School Athletic Association Graduating All-Star this season and was also named an all-star at the Manitoba Provincial Club Volleyball Championship.

Guenther has also had the honor of representing his province on Team Manitoba for both beach and indoor volleyball. He has been asked to try-out for Team Manitoba again this summer and is hoping to compete in beach volleyball at the Western Canada Summer Games this August.

Mullan sees the young left side making a big impact on their lineup.

“I think Steve is going to be an impact player for our program now and in the future,” Mullan said. “He is ready to make the jump to the college game and he will be able to contribute right away for us.  He has the physicality to step in and hang at this level of play.”

Guenther is looking forward to more than just improving his athletic ability at Briercrest.

“I’m really looking forward to competing in the ACAC and improving as a player and person at Briercrest,” he said.

Guenther has also excelled in the classroom and recently received the Dr. Dale Iwanoczko Memorial Scholarship for academic and volleyball excellence. He plans to focus on arts and science classes at Briercrest, particularly to take as many kinesiology courses as possible.

<strong>Aubry Poulin</strong>
Aubry Poulin is a libero/outside hitter from Saskatoon, SK.

Poulin is graduating from St. Joseph’s High School where he was team captain for this past season. He led his team to a Saskatoon City Championship and a bronze medal at the Saskatchewan High School Athletic Association Provincial Volleyball Championship. He was also recognized as an all-star at both the Regina Cougar Invitational Tournament and the Saskatchewan Huskies Invitation Tournament during his Grade 12 season.

Poulin also competed for the JCVC volleyball club out of Saskatoon and helped his team win the Saskatchewan Volleyball Association Provincial Championship in April.

For the past two summers, Poulin has competed for Team Saskatchewan at the Western Canadian Elite Championships. He was the starting libero/left side in both 2009 and 2010 and was also chosen as a team captain for 2010.

Poulin was coached by Jason Garland for high school and Team Saskatchewan.

“Aubry is the most determined, hardworking volleyball player I have ever coached,” said Garland. “You can really see his passion and love for the game.  His talent is great, but his attitude is incomprehensible. Briercrest is receiving a great person and athlete.”

“Aubry is going to be a huge addition for us as he is capable of filling many different roles on the team”, Mullan said. “Anytime you get to add a player that can do a number of different things at a high level, it is huge for your program.”

Poulin also volunteers his time as a coach and this season he directed the junior boys team at St. Joseph’s to a Saskatoon City Championship and he is a NCCP Level 1 Certified volleyball coach. Poulin boasts a 95 per cent high school average and is looking forward to studying at Briercrest this fall.

“I’m planning to study education at Briercrest with a focus on kinesiology,” Poulin said. “What I’m looking forward to the most at Briercrest is playing volleyball and college life.”

<strong>Kyle Pankratz</strong>
Kyle Pankratz is moving out to Caronport from Surrey, BC.

The 6’ 7” left-handed right side is a graduating from Fraser Heights High School.

Mullan is excited about the size Pankratz brings to the team.

“Adding a player like Kyle gives us something that we needed in our lineup”, Mullan said. “He is a player that can bring a physical style play for us at the corners.  He is going to present problems for opponents both with his offense and with his blocking.”

Pankratz began his volleyball in Grade 7 and has competed in school, club and provincial team volleyball ever since. This past December he was voted sixth overall in the Top 15 graduating high school volleyball players in BC, by an annual panel of BC university volleyball coaches. Pankratz has been honored as an all-star at BC high school provincials, MVP for his school team and also Male Athlete of the Year.

At the club level, Pankratz has competed for the Eagles Volleyball Club, White Rock Volleyball Club, and Fraser Valley Volleyball Club. Highlights have been a national silver medal in 2009 and also a fourth place finish at nationals this May.

The dominant attacker and blocker has been a key part of Team BC, representing his province during the past two summers at the Western Canadian Elite Championships for his 16U and 17U years. He also won a gold medal at the BC Summer Games for his 15U season.

Pankratz is ecstatic about the opportunity in front of him at Briercrest.

“God has blessed me with a gift [to play volleyball], and I want to take this gift as far as I possibly can,” Pankratz said. “At Briercrest I plan to take General Studies, and am really excited to learn about God, and what his plans in my life are. God told me to go to Briercrest, and honestly it has been one of the best decisions of my life. Briercrest has so much to offer, through both its community and education. The experience will be like no other school in the world.”

<strong>Steven Klassen</strong>
Steven Klassen is another Manitoban, coming to the Clippers from Winnipeg. Klassen is following in the footsteps of his older brother Trevor, who has been the starting setter at Briercrest for the past three seasons.

Steven has been playing both school and club volleyball since Grade 6. Highlights for him have been winning the Kilcona Peguis Athletic Conference Championship in Grade 10 and 12 and being in the KPAC final in Grade 11 with Mennonite Brethren Collegiate Institute for high school volleyball. From there he went on to win a MHSAA Provincial Championship in Grade 11 and a provincial silver medal this past season.

Brian Plett, the head coach for MBCI, believes Briercrest is getting a great addition with Klassen.

“Steve is a fine volleyball player who has a nice spin serve, passes well and is a consistent attacker,” Plett said. “Steve also brings a lot to the team in terms of energy and his wild sense of humor which will bring necessary relief from the tension of competition.  He is a good leaper and plays bigger than his height.”

For club volleyball, Klassen won a silver medal this season at the Manitoba provincial championship and also earned a fifth place finish at the Canadian national championships.

Along with Guenther, Klassen was also coached by Jim Schreyer for club volleyball.

“Steven was one of our top defensive players who had the ability to come into the game on big points and give us a series of digs to enable our team to score,” Schreyer said. “He also has great leadership skills on the court.”

“I am looking forward to coming to Briercrest not only because of the chance to play college volleyball, but also to grow spiritually and academically,” Klassen said.  
Mullan likes what he is getting with Klassen.

“I am looking forward to having Steve in our lineup as he is a scrappy player and I think he will be effective in bringing energy to our lineup,” the Clipper head coach said. “He will be able to bring something to the court both offensively and defensively which is always important for a player coming in from high school.”

The 6’ 0” outside hitter is going to be working on his BA in Humanities at Briercrest this fall.