Swift Current's Dylan Mortensen is racking up individual accolades during his first year of eligibility with the U of S Huskies men's volleyball team.
The former Senior Colt's standout rookie season has seen both a Canada West all-rookie team nod, along with the more-recent Canada West Rookie of the Year award.
"Yeah it's pretty special for me, coming in from Swift Current and being one of the first guys that went to the next level of volleyball in my area," said Mortensen of the rewarding feeling of helping put the spotlight on southwest volleyball. "Just showing that guys from small towns can play volleyball at the next level means a lot for me."
The 6-foot-6 Outside Hitter led the Huskies in kills (299) in his first year of eligibility after red-shirting last season.
Mortensen's 3.36 kills/set average was a mark good for sixth among all players in the conference.
Chipping in 116 digs, 32 blocks, and 24 service aces, Mortensen helped guide the Huskies to a 10-14 record.
However, despite a thrilling five-set victory (17-25, 25-21, 27-25, 21-25, 15-13) over the second-seeded UBC Thunderbirds in their final game of the regular season, the Huskies fell short of a Canada West playoffs by a single game.
Iindividual accomplishments aside, that narrow gap between the ninth-place Huskies and both the Manitoba Bisons (11-13) and Thompson Rivers WolfPack (11-13) serves as fuel for next year.
"It definitely motivates the guys because we know we can definitely play with the top teams in our conference," said Mortensen. "Beating UBC in our last game of the year and missing out by one spot.. the teams that made it, we could have beaten. It definitely drives us for next year for sure."
It's a bright future for the Huskies, as the connection continues to blossom between Mortensen and soon-to-be third-year setter CJ Gavlas - a former Canada West and USports Rookie of the Year.
"He's a great player obviously," Mortensen said. "I think that we can continue to make some stellar plays and put the ball up so I can get some kills out of it, and maybe trying a couple more fancy plays next year and see if I can get the same volume I got this year - just keep our consistency there."
Looking to make both Canada West playoffs and the Conference all-star team next season, Mortensen says it's time to work on his game to up the level again.
"I think that definitely my serve-receive, hopefully being able to play both left side and right side next year, also just continuing to get stronger and jump higher."
Mortensen is next off to Hamilton, ONT to be a spectator at the USports Men’s Volleyball Championship, and see if national Rookie of the Year honours are in the cards.