DAVID LARKINS, Wesmen Athletics
A pair of Winnipeg Wesmen men's volleyball players earned their first career conference all-star honours on Tuesday.
Daniel Thiessen, a fourth-year right side, was named a Canada West first-team all-star and freshman left side Liam Kristjanson was named to the all-rookie team as the conference handed out its year-end awards.
Thiessen was the catalyst for a Wesmen team that finished 12-10 and in sixth place in the conference despite not having starting left side/middle Ethan Duncan for 14 of 22 conference matches.
The Glenlawn Collegiate graduate was one of the top attackers in the country, finishing second in the nation in kills with 315 and fifth in kills per set with 3.89, both career-highs. It was the first time in his career Thiessen topped the 300-kill mark in conference play.
Thiessen was also stellar in the back row, collecting a career-high 159 digs, which put him seventh overall in U Sports and tops among all outside hitters in Canada. That number placed him third in Canada West and he was the only player in the conference to finish in the top five in both kills and digs.
With 20 aces and 46 total blocks, Thiessen also led the nation in points with 365.5.
Thiessen had 18 matches with double-digit kills, including a career-high 27 against Calgary, Feb. 8, and notched double-digit digs six times, matching a career-high with 17 at UBC-Okanagan Jan. 10. He topped the 20-kill mark three times in conference play and had six double-doubles.
Kristjanson, a product of Brandon Crocus Plains, stepped into a starting role early with Duncan's injury and made an impact.
The 6-foot-9 freshman appeared in 21 of 22 conference matches and finished the season with 94 kills, 16 aces, 30 digs and 22 blocks.
Kristjanson twice hit the double-digit mark for kills, topping out at a career-high 11 while hitting .391 in a four-setter with UBC on the first weekend of the season.
Kristjanson hit .300 or better in seven conference matches including a career-high .583 (7/0/12) against Mount Royal on Feb. 14.
Thiessen is the first Wesmen first-team all-star — and Kristjanson the first all-rookie team member — since Tom Douglas-Powell and Adrian Dyck made first-team and all-rookie, respectively, in 2014-15.
Conference all-stars and major award winners are voted on by the conference's 12 head coaches.