Briercrest Volleyball had exciting year full of firsts and records

Posted: May 26, 2015

The Briercrest volleyball teams had another exciting year with the women’s program have their best regular season since joining the ACAC and the men scrapping for a playoff position in the tough ACAC South division right to the last game.

The ACAC league format changed to north and south divisions this season with teams only playing against teams in their division during the regular season, and the top four teams from each division playing in ACAC Championship.

Women’s volleyball had one of their strongest seasons in the program’s history with an 18-6 ACAC record and a CCAA National ranking of #5 (highest in program history). They had a program high win streak of 12 straight regular season wins.

Reflective of their success, Samantha Zacharias was recognized with several accolades including 2014-15 ACAC and CCAA women’s volleyball ‘Player of the Year’ (first Briercrest women's volleyball player to be named CCAA Player of the Year), Amanda Lundquist was named to the ACAC South All-Conference Team, and Nolan Weinmaster was named ACAC Coach of the Year for the second year in a row, as well as third time in six seasons!

Women’s volleyball head coach Nolan Weinmaster was very thankful for the season and what they were able to accomplish, while also seeing potential for growth moving forward.

“I am really proud of each of our girls and the work they put in this year and their commitment to a growth mindset through the year to make improvements,” he said. “The Lord blessed us with a great group to work with! We were disappointed with the end to the season in terms of the loss in the conference semifinal, but can learn so much from that and will be better next time.”

At the year-end Briercrest Athletics Banquet Samantha Zacharias was recognized as Briercrest Female Athlete of the Year and Janae Rapley was selected as Briercrest Female Rookie of the Year.

Mikayla Reinhardt was selected as the Briercrest women’s volleyball Most Valuable Player while Kathleen Bruce was selected as the team’s Most Improved Player.

Erin Anderson (fifth-year) and Amanda Lundquist (fourth-year), both graduated and will not be returning to the team next season. Anderson was also nominated for the Briercrest Community Involvement Award.

On route to their successful season the team set new ACAC records with 1144 kills and 304 service aces as a team in a season. Samantha Zacharias had an ACAC record 99 service aces in a season, as well as leading the CCAA in kills and kills/game. Several players also moved up the rankings for career statistics including Erin Anderson graduating ranked fourth all-time in ACAC blocks with 178.

Amanda (Lundquist) Wendel reflected on her time at Briercrest.

“I have played volleyball since Grade 5 and I have been on many teams,” the BA Applied Linguistics TESOL grad said. “But, never have I been on a team quite like this one. The girls are like family, they are supportive of you on and off the court. The whole team, including the coaches, truly cares about who you are as a person, not just as an athlete, and they want to help you succeed in all areas of your life.”

The men’s volleyball team was in a dog fight all season to make the playoffs as the ACAC South division would only have four teams qualifying for the ACAC Championship. Each game was important as all four teams above them in the standings were ranked in the CCAA National rankings throughout the year! The men finished the season with a 13-11 record, and tied with SAIT for fourth place in the ACAC South, but SAIT held the tie-breaker and the incredible stretch of 10 straight playoffs was broken.

Men’s volleyball head coach Nigel Mullan looked back on the season.

“We were in a battle all year and I believe we were peaking at the right time, but unfortunately we had a couple of losses early in the season that we could not make up down the stretch,” Mullan explained. “Losing our two fifth-years for next year will be a tall order, but we are excited for the new faces joining the program.”

The men’s volleyball was recognized for their individual success this season, with Zac Ens, Carter Reimer and Josh Wendel being named to the ACAC South men’s volleyball All-Conference Team. Ens ended the season tied for the ACAC south lead with 3.83 kills/set, ranking him eighth in the country.

Zac Ens was recognized as Briercrest Male Athlete of the Year at the annual Briercrest Athletics Banquet. Josh Wendel was nominated for Briercrest Athletics Community Involvement Award and Josh Nickel for Briercrest Male Rookie of the Year.

Josh Wendel was selected as Briercrest men’s volleyball Most Valuable Player while younger brother Jason Wendel was selected as the team’s Most Improved Player.

Zac Ens and Josh Wendel both graduated as fifth year student-athletes and will not be returning to the team next season, while team captain Carter Reimer graduated in four years and will be returning to play in his fifth and final year on the team.

Zac Ens, who returned to finish off his college career at Briercrest after a three year absence, looked back on his time with the team.

“Being part of the Briercrest volleyball team was where I built some of the closest relationships,” the AA Social Sciences graduate said. “With the amount of time I spent with my teammates working towards a common goal, I developed lifelong friendships. From training hard and achieving success to working through tough losses, you develop friendships that couldn't be made anywhere else.”

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