Volleyball players lead female nominees for Canadian university sport awards

CALGARY — Volleyball talent was at the forefront in women’s U Sports this season. Three of eight nominees for the Lieutenant Governor Athletics Awards played the sport.

Formerly the BLG Awards, the top male and female athlete in Canadian university sport in 2018-19 will be announced Thursday in Calgary.

Three of four athletes nominated for the Jim Thompson Trophy that goes to the best female athlete were volleyball players: Kiera Van Ryk (UBC) Theanna Vernon (Ryerson) Courtney Baker (Dalhousie).

Laval basketball player Sarah-Jane Marois rounds out the nominees.

Football players Adam Singara of the Calgary Dinos and Laval’s Mathieu Betts, Guelph soccer player Jace Kotsopoulos and University of New Brunswick hockey player Christopher Clapperton were nominated for the Doug Mitchell Trophy for male athlete of the year.

The nominees were selected for their athletic accomplishments, outstanding sportsmanship and demonstrated leadership.

Previous winners include CFL players Jesse Lumsden, Don Blair and Andrew Buckley as well as Olympic swimmer Kylie Masse, heptathlete Jessica Zelinka and hockey player Kim St. Pierre.

The university sport awards have been presented since 1993 first as the Howard Mackie Awards and then the BLG Awards named for the law firm Borden Ladner Gervais.

The brand has been relaunched by Alberta’s lieutenant-governor Lois Mitchell and husband Doug Mitchell, a BLG co-chair and former CFL player and commissioner who founded the awards.

In her second season, Van Ryk had 24 kills, three aces and 13 digs in the national championship final for the Thunderbirds, who beat Ryerson for the title. Van Ryk was named tournament MVP.

Ryerson’s Vernon led the country with a .410 hitting percentage and posted a career-high 100 blocks in her fifth and final season of eligibility.

Baker helped the Tigers to an 18-2 season with 91 kills and 22 service aces. She was selected to play for the Canadian women’s volleyball team twice during her four years at Dalhousie.

Marois’s .946 percentage from the free-throw line ranked second in Canada.

She also ranked in the top-10 in from three-point range at .410. She led the Rouge et Or women to the national final.

Clapperton led all Atlantic scorers in men’s hockey with 14 goals and 33 assists in 30 games. The forward helped the Reds win a third national championship in four years.

Betts was named Canada’s most outstanding lineman a third straight year and became the first to earn the J.P. Metras Trophy three consecutive seasons.

The defensive end recorded nine sacks and 14 tackles for a loss for the Rouge et Or.

Kotsopoulos’s 15 goals for Guelph in 2018 was good for second in the Ontario conference, and made him the Gryphons all-time leading scorer with 56.

Singara’s 3,233 passing yards and 23 touchdown passes paced the Calgary Dinos to an 8-0 season.

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