The Brandon University Bobcats men’s volleyball team rounded out its recruiting class on Thursday with a pair of national bronze medallists.
Winnipeggers Bruce Akubukaka and Brady Nault have committed to BU for next season after helping the Winman Legends finish third at the 18-and-under national boys’ club championship last week. Getting two talented players who have had a lot of success is nice for the Bobcats, but both of them coming from Winnipeg is the icing on the cake for BU head coach Grant Wilson.
“It’s really exciting just to land two elite student-athletes,” he said. “They’re both really strong academically and they’re both great volleyball players. To be able to land two kids from Winnipeg like that to our program is huge. They both made reference that they wanted to come here because we have a successful program and they want to be a part of it. For us, that’s really exciting.”
Akubukaka, a 6-foot-1 outside hitter, comes from St. Paul’s High School. He was a dynamic jumper and an offensive force while helping the Crusaders reach the provincial AAAA volleyball championship match this season. He also played basketball.
Nault is a 6-fooot-3 outside hitter and libero from Westwood Collegiate. Wilson said Nault is not flashy but the coach thinks he can be a game-changer with his defensive play at left side, similar to what Scott Neufeld did when he was moved from libero to left side during Brandon’s run to a Canada West conference crown and a national bronze medal in 2013.
“(A bigger libero is beneficial) in terms of being able to take up a bit more court space on serve receive,” Wilson said. “Also just having the versatility to move out to left side like we did with Scott. We just found that when we made that move, it just added another dimension to our team by having real solid ball control in our left-side spot and we are hoping that Brady can fill that same mould and have his libero skills kind of control the court. Being 6-foot-3, he can add a little bit more in terms of his blocking and his offence.”
Nault, an international baccalaureate high school student who also excels at baseball, and Akubukaka are the second and third recruits for the team, joining 6-foot-7 middle James Weir from Australia.
The Winnipeggers were coached in club this season by former Bobcat Paul Robidoux and are looking forward to coming to Brandon in the fall.
“I chose BU because I felt like it would be the right place for me,” Akubukaka said in a press release. “The Bobcats have produced great volleyball players such as Paul Sanderson, Paul Robidoux and Sam Tuivai, and I am excited to learn from current players, focus on my studies and become the best student athlete I can be.”
“I’ve heard that the team atmosphere of the Bobcats is something that is unmatched by other schools,” Nault said in the release. “I am also excited to join and contribute to a successful volleyball program that has been built in Brandon.”
CAT SCRAP: BU Athletics will give an overview of its inaugural MCAC soccer season at the Healthy Living Centre on Monday at noon.