Markus Martens: February's Zueike Male Athlete of the Month
Congratulations to Markus Martens of Men's Volleyball on being selected the CMU Zueike Male Athlete of the Month for February. The second year middle took his game to the next level this season, and became a steady presence in the starting lineup for the Blazers.
Blazers Men's Volleyball wrapped up a 16-2 season this past month and earned themselves the top seed in the MCAC heading into championship weekend to finish up February. The team sported a perfect 4-0 record in regular season conference play in February, as well as peaked at number eight in the CCAA National Rankings in mid-February, holding that ranking until the conclusion of their schedule. Unfortunately, the playoffs didn't go according to plan, and the team failed to defend their title, after a win in the semi-finals over the host Les Rouges setup a rematch of last year's final with the Providence Pilots.
Throughout the season, Martens went quietly about his business in the Blazers front court, amassing 53 kills and 44 blocks, the latter of which was good for the top mark in the conference, and more than double that of All-Canadian middle Sebastian Verdaguer of Providence. The Blazers squad was the top blocking team in the MCAC this season, with the middle tandem of Martens and Joshua Werbiski amassing 80 blocks between the two; more than the entire St Boniface team for the season. With a 0.94 blocks per set average, Martens was noted as one of the top five in that statistical category in the entire CCAA heading into championship weekend. Martens continued his stellar play into the playoffs, racking up eight kills at a.700 kill efficiency, alongside three blocks, three digs, and an ace in the semi-final, earning him player of the match honours.
A relative unknown in Manitoba when he joined the team in 2021-22, the Fiske, Saskatchewan native has developed his game very quickly under head coach Don Dulder, who had nothing but positives to speak about his impact middle. "Markus has improved his attacking and blocking immensely since joining the team last season," stated the ninth year head coach. "He was key in the playoffs holding the opposition middles, and even though he's undersized at 6'3" his tremendous vertical and athleticism allows him to play as a much taller middle. Finding his timing with the setter was another step forward this year, and his durability has been critical, not missing any action since the pre-season. Markus is a tremendous team player, and I'm looking forward to what heights he can bring his game next year."
The Blazers' season now complete, Martens and his teammates now look ahead to offseason training that will see a large contingent of the young squad back to compete once again for the MCAC crown starting in the fall of 2023. Since the 2021-22 season, the winners of the MCAC Title in MCAC soccer and volleyball have had the opportunity to compete for a CCAA National Championship, as the team did for the first time in MCAC history in March of 2022. This year's event is being held this week, with the MCAC champions Providence Pilots representing Manitoba at the national event at Humber College in Toronto, ON. Next year's CCAA National Championships has been announced to be held at Camosun College in Victoria, BC once again in early March.