New Zealander Liam Matheson has committed to BU. (SUBMITTED)
The Brandon University Bobcats have tapped into their international pipeline once again.
The Bobcats men’s volleyball team is importing 6-foot-3 left side Liam Matheson from Tauranga, New Zealand, making him the third Kiwi and fifth international player on BU’s roster. The 18-year-old Matheson joins fellow New Zealanders Sam Tuivai and Roy Ching on the Bobcats, along with Australian Brendan White and Swiss standout Sebastien Steigmeier.
While Canada West schools will be limited to just two imports starting in 2014 (current roster players will be exempt), the international recruits have helped BU — one of the smallest schools in the country — compete with the big powerhouse universities like Alberta and UBC.
"We’ve been pretty lucky over the years, starting with our first three Australians in (Luke) Reynolds, (Cam) Blewett and (former CIS player of the year Paul) Sanderson; it certainly helped us start making a path into Australia and then Sam coming from New Zealand led to Roy … and now has led to Liam," Bobcats head coach Grant Wilson said. "So having those connections has certainly paid off."
A member of New Zealand’s under-19 indoor and beach volleyball teams, Matheson was pointed in BU’s direction by another former Bobcat import, Ben Glue, while attending the New Zealand national team camp.
"Ben and I were talking about scholarships at the New Zealand training camp and he told me that Brandon had a great program going and that there were also a couple of Kiwis still there and are doing really well," Matheson stated in a BU press release. "Sam Tuivai and Roy Ching are both doing very well in Brandon and Ben’s one season was very successful, so I am really looking forward to continuing my volleyball with such a successful program and can't wait to get out there and experience the college life."
While Matheson is young, Wilson hopes the rookie can fill a role on the left side for the Bobcats, who are coming off their first Canada West conference title and a bronze medal at nationals.
"It’s always hard to say without seeing the person live, but from what we’ve seen on video and his resumé, he is kind of what we were looking for," Wilson said. "We wanted to add one more person to push for that left-side spot. He’s going to be young, but he’s experienced, so we’re kind of looking for him to stabilize that left-side spot and be kind of a solid passer and a good defender and contribute offensively when necessary. And with his indoor experience and beach experience, we think that will be a good fit for him."
Matheson is the sixth recruit for the Bobcats — who have 11 veterans returning — and joins Brandonites Daven Pascal and Jared Friesen, Winnipegger Mack Mravnik, Selkirk’s Joel Makara and Ty Moorman from Penticton, B.C. Matheson is expected to arrive in Brandon on Sept. 1, with the Bobcats beginning training camp on Sept. 3.
NOTES: The Bobcats will host the Winnipeg Wesmen in pre-season action on Sept. 27 and 28 at BU ... Bobcats libero Jeremy Davies and the Canadian junior team face Tunisia today to open the world under-21 men’s volleyball championship in Turkey.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition August 22, 2013