The Medicine Hat Rattlers put together another solid season in the Alberta Colleges Men’s Volleyball League and Norway native Isak Helland-Hansen played a major role.
Helland-Hansen has shown since arriving in the ACAC in 2014 he’s a premier all-around player.
On Wednesday the six-foot-one outside hitter was recognized for his accomplishments by being named the ACAC player of the year for the second straight season.
“It’s always surprising to win such an award, there’s a lot of good players in this league,” said Helland-Hansen at the ACAC Conference Awards Brunch at the RDC Arts Centre Wednesday morning.
“It’s always nice to be recognized because the competition is so high, which makes it better.”
Helland-Hansen led the Rattlers to a 19-5 record and a tie for first place in the South Division with the RDC Kings. However, the Rattlers took first because of a better sets won-loss record between the two.
Helland-Hansen finished with 202 kills (2.69 kills-per-set), 125 digs (1.67) and 37 aces (0.49).
“We had a really good season … the effort has been there all year in practice and we’ve been consistent in games,” said Helland-Hansen, who is in his third and last season with the Rattlers.
“It’s been good, unfortunately this is my last year in Canada,” he said. “I’ll miss the league. It’s been a great time getting to compete against a high level of young athletes.”
Helland-Hansen played with the junior national team and one of the top club programs in Norway before coming to the Rattlers. He indicated more and more players from his home country are looking at North America.
“The States has been big, but more and more guys are looking at college and university here,” he said. “The competition is strong and it’s enjoyable with more on the line than just showing up.”
Helland-Hansen and Tristan Simmonds of Grande Prairie were named all-Canadians.
Meanwhile four members of the Kings — setter Luke Brisbane, outside hitter Regan Fathers, middle Ty Moorman and libero Michael Sumner — were selected to the South All-Conference team
“It’s a nice to be recognized … the other guys were definitely deserving,” said Brisbane, who is looking forward to the championships being held at RDC.
“It’s exciting … we heard last March that we would be hosting and we’ve been looking forward to it … it’s been a bit of a countdown.”
The Kings face the NAIT Ooks in their opening game at 6 p.m. tonight.
Action gets underway at 1 p.m. with SAIT facing The King University Eagles and CCAA coach of the year nominee Phil Dixon.
“I was quite surprised,” said Dixon. “I was still sitting after they said my name. I didn’t think I won. It’s humbling.”
Dixon is in his third season with the Eagles after spending 22 years working in engineering.
“For the last 25 years I was involved in volleyball with Team Alberta and club but I finally decided to make the jump to full time and it’s great. But every night in this league is a grind. There’s a lot of good teams. The top teams can definitely compete with the university teams.”
Dixon is looking forward to facing SAIT.
“Not many quarter-finals do you see two nationally ranked teams facing each other. It will be a battle, but exciting. This is what it’s all about.”
- Dixon was also named the North coach of the year and Sean McKay of SAIT the South coach of the year.
- Jakub Zdybek of Keyano was the North rookie of the year and Bryan Fountain of Briercrest the South rookie-of-the-year.
- Brodie Dolter and Cole Sanderson of MHC joined Helland-Hansen on the South All-Conference team along with Trent Mounter and Jackson Osborne of SAIT and Dax Whitehead of Lethbridge.
- Justin Delorme, Blazej Pellowsi, Alex Sabourin and Zdybek of Keyano, Kristofer Ames, Brendan Vanderlinde and Levi Woltuis of King’s, Lucas Robertson and Simmonds 0f Grande Prairie and Lyndon Varga of Augustana were on the North team.
Other action today sees MHC facing Grande Prairie at 3 p.m. and Keyano meeting Briercrest at 8 p.m.
The semifinals go Friday at 5 and 7 p.m. and the final at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.