For the last five years, Dan Boutwell has quietly become a consistent and dominating middle for the Brandon University Bobcats men’s volleyball team, but never got the accolades for his success.
That changed on Friday as the 6-foot-7 nursing student from Kenora, Ont., was named a second-team Canada West conference all-star.
In his final year of eligibility, Boutwell was the most consistent Bobcat from the start of this season to the end and BU head coach Grant Wilson was pleased to see him finally get recognized.
“I think it’s very deserved. There’s nobody else on our team that deserves that recognition more than he does,” Wilson said via phone from Langley B.C., where his team was set to take on the host Trinity Western Spartans in a conference semifinal late last night. “He’s been one of the premier middle players his entire career for us and hasn’t necessarily garnered the personal accolades that a lot of our other guys have and I couldn’t be happier to see him get rewarded for that.”
Boutwell had a solid season with a Bobcats team that struggled to a 10-12 record in the regular season and backed into the playoffs. He finished third on the team behind right side Sebastien Steigmeier and left side Sam Tuivai in kills with 174 in 24 matches, for 1.85 per set. His attack percentage of .426, however, led the squad and was the fourth best in Canada West. He posted 94 blocks to average one per set this season, which was ninth best in the conference, and also served up 12 aces and recorded 52 digs.
While he posted solid numbers, Boutwell had to play a different role this season. The 23-year-old captained the Bobcats, which forced the quiet player to become a little more vocal. Wilson didn’t think Boutwell did anything out of character to lead the team past the UBC Thunderbirds in the quarter-finals and into the Canada West final four.
“He’s just a guy that works hard and leads by example, and when he speaks up everybody listens because of his veteran presence and experience,” Wilson said. “That’s exactly what we wanted and needed from him.”
This is the seventh straight year a Bobcat has been named to a conference all-star team, putting Boutwell in good company. Paul Sanderson made all-star teams four times and Jon Sloane made them twice, while Joel Small and Sam Tuivai also garnered honours in 2008-09 and 2012-13, respectively.
Late Friday night, the 10th-ranked Bobcats fell 3-1 (25-17, 25-21, 22-25, 25-19) to the second-ranked Spartans in the Canada West Final Four tournament in Langley, B.C., with Sebastien Steigmeier notching 20 kills to lead BU. The loss ended the Bobcats’ hopes of advancing to the CIS national championship from Feb. 27 to March 1.