Author: Ben Saxton

Volleyball Stuff

The final team preview for the NBVL Vancouver is the reigning runners up, Volleyball Stuff. In the Inaugural Season, this team looked unstoppable, and their women’s team (Chow/Wuttunee) were the only undefeated team during Regulation Play (before overtime) throughout the season. But they were toppled in the final, in heartbreaking fashion, a 16-14 Overtime defeat to Moveo. They’ll be looking for redemption in the 2020 season.

Staff

Sanjiv Jasra is the Vancouver based managing partner for Volleyball Stuff and the team’s owner, Sanjiv was responsible for getting the main uniforms made up for all of the NBVL Teams. Chrissy Benz is the GM for the Volleyball Stuff team, bringing expertise from her past roles in Volleyball Canada working with the beach and indoor teams, and her current role as alumni relations manager in athletics & recreation with UBC.

Kumiko Chow – Kept Player

As previously mentioned, Chow and former partner Wuttunee were unstoppable. During regulation match play they were unblemished, falling only in Overtime situations. Taken as the 1st overall pick, and then named as the Inaugural Season MVP, Kumi took home all of the accolades in 2019. All except for 1, the NBVL Championship trophy. Volleyball Stuff couldn’t say no to keeping the defending MVP, and they’re hoping that she’ll be able to pick up where she left off, and march them right back into the 2020 finals.

Joanna Braun – 5th overall

Volleyball Stuff’s 1st pick at 5th overall was Joanna Braun, another strong performer from the NBVL’s Inaugural Season, and the overall Vancouver beach scene. Braun has been a consistent presence at kits, as a founding member of the KWVC and a past finalist of the Vancouver Open. Jo finished 3rd overall last season for Natura, with top 6 numbers in 4 statistical categories (Pts, K, A, D). She also has a history of success in the summer with Volleyball Stuff team mate Chow, so they’ll be looking for chemistry to be a big factor.

Aleksandar Borisov – 8th overall

Borisov has shown himself to be a big jumper. Not only while he recorded the highest spike touch in back to back combines, but he also while making the biggest leap from the Inaugural Season draft (going undrafted) to present, where Volleyball Stuff selected him 8th overall in the 2nd round. The highest selection of all of the 5 athletes representing the Pacific Elite Beach Training group in the NBVL (check them out @pacificelitebeach). It may be Borisov’s first season playing in the NBVL, but he’ll play a big role for the men of Volleyball Stuff.

Alexander Harvalias – 17th overall

Harv was fantastic in the Inaugural Season for Moveo, especially in the Overtime comeback that sealed the deal over this very Volleyball Stuff team in last year’s finals. Wanting to capture some of that success for themselves, Volleyball Stuff grabbed the 2nd team all-star with their 3rd pick. Harv really stood out as one of the top defenders in the Inaugural Season, leading the league in total digs with 67 during the regular season and playoffs, combined. He’ll look to pick up right where he left off as Champion of the NBVL Inaugural Season.

Tamiko Young – 20th overall

Tamiko adds another layer of experience to the Volleyball Stuff women. In the Inaugural Season she was 4th among women, averaging 2 blocks per game for Active ReLeaf. Tamiko is another regular on the BC beach scene, with several quarter finals appearances on the KWVC and BC Beach tours, and 17th place finishes at the last 2 Vancouver Opens. Tamiko could be called upon to put up a wall in front of her defensive minded team mates, against some of their big hitting opponents this season.

Erland Polden – 29th Overall

Polden was the big mystery of the 2020 NBVL Draft. An import from Norway, not much was known about Polden’s playing ability. This could be the management move of the season, as Erland has been trained by some very accomplished coaches from his homeland, including Espen Sorum, who currently coaches the world’s top Norwegian duo. All eyes will be on Polden when he first takes to the sand for Volleyball Stuff, to see if he’ll be a difference maker.

Team Summary

Volleyball Stuff has an experienced women’s group, and an untested men’s squad. The women have the most combined experience in the NBVL Vancouver, and a lot of pre-established chemistry which should be of great benefit to them early in the season. Lack of size from their top 2 picks could leave them vulnerable, but Young should fill that hole if they struggle in the early season. The men are hard to predict, they will likely have a youthful energy coming into the season with Borisov and Harv, which should serve them well, and Polden could provide the X-Factor, but this is a team that will be worth checking out to see what surprises they have in store.

Pacific Coast

Team Number 5 from NBVL Vancouver is another new  entry to the league, Pacific Coast. As a new team, they weren’t able to keep anyone from last season. Not every player is new to the league, so they aren’t complete newbies, and they will all be trying to make Pacific Coast’s first season a strong one.

Staff

Christian Redmann is director of Pacific Coast Volleyball Club, and Owner of this team. He recruited Tim Stubbs to be the team’s GM, and Tim was given full authority over team selections.

denise wooding – 2nd overall

For the 2nd year in a row, Wooding was selected 2nd overall, although this time around, as the first female off the board. As a 1st team all-star from the Inaugural Season, she probably would have been kept, had Volleyball BC remained in the league, so Pacific Coast wisely chose her for their first selection. Denise has been a standout athlete in the BC Women’s beach community for a while now, most notably making the finals of the prestigious Vancouver Open for the last 2 years in a row (1st in 2018, 2nd in 2019).

irem eren – 11th Overall

One of the player’s receiving the most buzz from the recent draft is Irem Eren. Not much is known in the local community about this Turkish athlete’s ability on the sand, though she has represented Turkey in CEV youth competition, and her indoor resume is pretty solid. What really earned her 2nd round selection was her stand out performance at the NBVL Combine, where people immediately noticed her physicality, and incredible potential. She will be the youngest woman in the NBVL Vancouver this season, but Pacific Coast pairing her with a strong veteran in Wooding should help Eren to grow quickly.

john galloway – 14th overall

Galloway and Volleyball Stuff were the number 1 seed after the Regular Season last year, and fell just short of winning the first ever championship in an Overtime heartbreaker. Despite not coming home with the title, John did his part in the playoffs, improving on a per game basis in every statistical category (Pts/Kills/Blocks/Digs/Aces) in the playoffs compared to the regular season. Despite not getting picked up until the 14th overall, John was the 5th male player selected in the draft, and will be expected to lead the Pacific Coast men’s group.

krzysztof orman – 23rd overall

Orman taken in the 4th round might have been the steal of the draft. He was only able to participate in  3 matches in the Inaugural Season, but in that small window, managed to lead the league in pts/match and blocks/match. Orman has a history of international play for Poland, representing at a few youth World Championships, Krzysztof has as many tricks up his sleeve as consonants in his name.

chris howe – 26th overall

Rounding out the men for Pacific Coast is big man Chris Howe. A member of the Pacific Elite training group, he’s been working hard to develop his own skills as well as the level of the Vancouver Beach community. Howe has an excellent net presence, and an enthusiasm for the game even larger than his physical stature. Howe should be a fan favorite the moment he gets his feet sandy.

sarah hockley – 31st overall

Hockley is another newcomer to the NBVL. She played her post secondary indoor as a Capilano Blue, and now spends her summers in the sand. This past summer, she become a regular performer, and made her biggest impact athe KWVC #2 and Provincial Championships, where she took a 2nd and 4th, respectively. Hockley will look to bring those strong performances to the court whenever she gets an opportunity.

Team Summary

Pacific Coast is a well balanced team on paper. Holding well known performers in Wooding, Galloway and Wooding, and extremely athletic fresh talent in Eren, Howe and Hockley, it’s a good mix of everythingthat should serve the team well. The key to this team will be getting everyone on the same page, There will likely be a learning curve early in the season, but they should only get stronger the more they play together.

Dome Defenders

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone who happens to be reading today. It’s a special holiday team preview today, which is fitting since there’s no place like Dome for the Holidays. The Dome Defenders hail from the Volleydome and Volleydome GYM, who sponsored the Inaugural Season, and will now be represented in the NBVL Calgary. Of all the team’s in the NBVL, the Defenders are the most invested. Going all in on their team identity, they are the only team in either league to have a name and logo unique to their team. They aren’t taking any shortcuts this season, and have their eyes on being the first ever NBVL Calgary Champions.

Staff

Camille Saxton holds the reins of the Defenders’ sleigh, and is also one of the reindeer, aka she’s a player/owner. Former Indoor great, and Camille’s father, Don Saxton, is also involved as head elf/coach. I’ll end the Christmas puns there, as we get into the players wearing Green and Blue in Calgary this season.

Stephanie burnside – 3rd overall

The player with the more NORCECA beach experience than any other in the NBVL is Steph Burnside with 29 events played, representing Mexico. In fact, she’s played the 8th most NORCECA events of anyone, anywhere, with a career best bronze medal in La Paz, Mexico this last summer. She’s one of the most experienced athletes in the NBVL field, and at 23 years old, still one of the youngest, giving her loads of potential. Her and Saxton already have a history, domestically as well, so The Defenders knew exactly what they were doing with their first pick.

camille saxton – 6th overall (Player/owner)

Saxton has built up a little beach history of her own over the past few years, taking Gold both 1* and 2* FIVB events in 2017, and following it up with an appearance at the 2017 World Championships in Vienna. Had she been draft eligible, she would have certainly been eyed for the first overall pick. With the highest spike touch at the Combine by 6 full inches, every women’s player was hoping to get chosen on her team, and she was certainly happy to have her choice among them.

luis castillo – 11th overall

Another veteran of the NORCECA tour, Luis Castillo has played in 17 events for the Dominican Republic. Hitting the quarter finals 3 times between 2013 and 2016, he now competes in the Calgary summers, where he’s been a regular in the semi finals of CBVA and VA events. As a regular in the Volleydome’s summer training group, along with Saxton and Burnside, the Dome Defenders have a good idea of what Castillo is capable of and have high expectations, taking him as their first male player in the 11th spot.

chris brunet – 14th overall

As a Canuck Stuff Volleyball Club graduate, Brunet was also familiar to Dome Defenders brass. Beyond that, he played in Usport as a member of the Queens Golden Gaels. Brunet impressed at the Combine with above average scores in all physical tests, but also great play on the court, earning him a spot on the Defenders.

jon isaacs – 19th overall

By this point, the draft strategy seems pretty clear, that the Defenders leaned heavily towards athletes they had a previous connection with. Taking Isaacs 19th was no exception, as member of the aforementioned summer training group. Another athlete with NORCECA experience, Jon competes under the Bahamas flag. He had the highest Block touch, and the second highest Spike touch in Calgary, and hopes to that physical ability to good use this season.

leah andries – 22nd overall

With their final pick, the Defenders took the combine’s fastest female, Leah Andries. She’s had some beach in the past few years, highlighted by a 3rd place at last summer’s Schanks tournament, and a tournament victory at the Sylvan Lake Volleyball Alberta event in 2017. Leah is a solid addition to the Defenders team, but will likely have to cede playing time to her international caliber team mates.

Team Summary

Burnside and Saxton will be the women’s pair to beat this season. Their total combined beach experience, plus the fact that they’ve already been successful together as a team, gives them a significant edge over other teams in the league on paper, but they’ll still need to prove it on the court. The men could be strong as well, though none have much experience as defenders. They’ll have to find the pairing that works best quickly in order to keep up with a couple of the other men’s teams that are hoping to be strong right out of the gates.