EDMONTON – Men's volleyball student-athlete Max Vriend is the MacEwan Athletics first star of the week after his performance in leading the Griffins to a weekend split against the Winnipeg Wesmen.
With 28 kills on Saturday, Vriend broke the MacEwan record for most kills in a Canada West match.
Other athletes recognized this week include second star Haley Gilfillan of the women's volleyball team and third star Abdullah Shittu of the men's basketball team.
Vriend is being recognized for the second time this season after previously being named third star on Nov. 13. Both Gilfillan and Shittu appear on the three stars honour roll for the first time in 2018-19.
1st star: Max Vriend, OH, men's volleyball
Barrhead, AB, fourth-year, Commerce
Unstoppable from outside on Saturday, Max Vriend broke the MacEwan University record for most kills in a Canada West match with 28 during a 3-2 defeat to the Winnipeg Wesmen.
That topped Lee Iverson's 27 that he netted during a January 2017 match against Calgary.
In addition, Vriend's .511 attacking percentage is a career best for the former Canadian Junior National team member and is third-best in MacEwan history for attackers with a minimum of 20 attempts in a game.
His game-high seven blocks, an ace and eight digs were also a big factor for the Griffins.
Although MacEwan lost a heartbreaker in Saturday's contest, Vriend was a major reason why the Griffins knocked off the Wesmen in five on Friday. His kill count was only at nine in that game because he was shifted to the middle in the fourth set, drawing the Winnipeg block and allowing others the chance to finish from the outside. He still added four blocks, five digs and an ace.
For the season, Vriend is fourth in Canada West with 154 kills, while also sitting in the top 10 in blocks, tied for eighth with 41.
2nd star: Haley Gilfillan, MB, women's volleyball
Edmonton, AB, fourth-year, Arts
Forming one half of the best 1-2 punch up the middle in Canada West with McKenna Stevenson, Gilfillan was dominant in leading the Griffins to a weekend sweep over the Winnipeg Wesmen.
In Friday's 3-0 win, she had seven kills, five digs and a game-high seven blocks.
In Saturday's 3-1 win, the fourth-year veteran posted nine kills on a .471 hitting percentage, adding four service aces, three digs and another seven blocks.
Beyond the stats, MacEwan's serving and blocking were two of the biggest reasons they had so much success against the Wesmen and improved to 7-5 at the semester break.
For the season, Gilfillan is fourth in the conference in blocks /set (1.15), just behind teammate Stevenson (1.16). Gilfillan is also third on the Griffins in kills (73) and second in service aces (21). From the serving line, she is fourth in the conference in service aces/set (0.54).
Haley Gilfillan had 16 kills and 14 blocks in two matches against Winnipeg over the weekend (Robert Antoniuk photo).
3rd star: Abdullah Shittu, F, men's basketball
Edmonton, AB, second-year, Arts
Showing off his chops with a dramatic spike in minutes in his second season with the Griffins, Shittu posted his second double-double of the 2018-19 campaign over the weekend in Regina.
The Harry Ainlay product had an important performance for the Griffins in Friday's 86-58 loss to the homestanding Cougars by producing 10 points, 11 rebounds, two assists, a steal and a block.
He followed that up with 17 points, eight rebounds, two blocks and an assist in Saturday's 86-79 loss to Regina.
At the halfway mark of the season, Shittu already has 27 blocks (second in the conference), which is just one shy of the MacEwan single season Canada West record of 28 set by Denzel James in 2016-17.
Abdullah Shittu goes against UFV's Sukhman Sandhu during a recent game. Shittu is just one block away from matching the MacEwan single season Canada West record (Robert Antoniuk photo).