COLIN CORNEAU/BRANDON SUN
Swiss import Sebastien Steigmeier passes the ball in Brandon University Bobcats men’s volleyball training camp at the Healthy Living Centre.
If all goes according to plan for the Brandon University Bobcats men’s volleyball team this season, Sam Tuivai won’t be used nearly as much.
Last year, the second-team all-Canadian from New Zealand had 31.5 per cent of the Bobcats’ attacks and 31.3 per cent of their kills, and it showed with the wear and tear on his body at the end of the season.
This year, Brandon has moved Swiss import Sebastien Steigmeier, who redshirted last season, to the starting right side position. Steigmeier has the ability to hit the ball just as hard on the right side of the net and, if things go right, he should balance off Tuivai on the left side, giving the Bobcats a balanced attack that will be tough to stop.
"It’s always good to have someone you can rely on in a team," the 6-foot-7, 220-pound Steigmeier said. "We had Sam last year, who is a tremendous player for real. He’s really, really good. That’s good, but in volleyball that’s not necessarily the best way to succeed.
"… If we can pass and have all these offensive threats for the left side, right side and if we pass good the middles are a threat, too, because we have really good middles, like top CIS middles. Then yes, we’re going to cause trouble to other teams’ defences because we’re going to be that dangerous with everyone being a threat. That’s what I want to do. I don’t want to see the game stats being Sam got 20 kills, I got 15 and the rest got three. I want everybody to be, eight, seven, eight and that would be awesome. That would be the best we could do."
Steigmeier comes with big credentials. He was a member of the California Baptist University Lancers team that won the NAIA championship in 2011, he has experience playing professional volleyball in Europe and he has represented Switzerland on the international stage, including the World University Games this summer.
The 24-year-old has a reputation for his powerful swings, but Bobcats head coach Grant Wilson knows Steigmeier is a much more complete player than that.
"He hits the ball extremely hard, but with that said, he has a lot of shots," Wilson said. "He’s pretty creative and he sees the block pretty well. I think most teams will have a tough time defending him just because of his power and his deception."
Steigmeier, however, does have some weaknesses. He admits he’s drifting a little bit on his blocking assignments, but he is convinced Wilson will correct that before the Bobcats open Canada West conference play on Oct. 25 when they host the Regina Cougars. Steigmeier also has to be careful with his right shoulder, which has tendinitis, a handful of muscle inflammations and a partially torn ligament.
One of the biggest challenges facing Steigmeier, other than staying healthy for the season, is getting back into a game-day routine. He sat out all of last season as a redshirt player, but he got a lot of playing time with the Swiss team at the University Games. The Swiss posted a 3-5 record and placed 16th in the 20-team field, while Steigmeier was one of the most productive players in the tournament, finishing with 115 kills, 14 aces and eight blocks.
He viewed the event as a good thing to get him back on the court and it made him anxious to return to the Wheat City so he can try to help the Bobcats repeat as Canada West champions and try to earn their first national championship.
"It was really good because I could get some really good reps at the World uni games and it got me really excited to come back here and play with the boys," he said.
Steigmeier and the Bobcats open pre-season play against the Winnipeg Wesmen on Sept. 27-28 at BU’s Healthy Living Centre.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition September 7, 2013