Abbotsford – The University of the Fraser Valley men’s volleyball team has added a pair of instant-impact recruits, signing Nimo Benne and Jonas Van Huizen.
Benne, a towering 6’8” outside hitter from the Netherlands, transfers to UFV from Thompson Rivers University, where he earned Canada West rookie of the year honours in 2019-20. Van Huizen, a 6’3” setter, was one of B.C.’s top-rated prospects in the Class of 2020 out of Langley Christian Secondary.
“I couldn’t be more happy that Nimo and Jonas have chosen UFV,” Cascades head coach Nathan Bennett said. “This sets the foundation of our program for many years to come.”
6’8” outside hitter
Castricum, the Netherlands
Beekdal College / Thompson Rivers University
Benne’s university volleyball debut in Canada last season was a smash hit, and netted him some incredible accolades. In addition to his Canada West rookie of the year nod, he also earned selection to the CW and U SPORTS all-rookie teams.
Benne finished fourth in Canada West for kills with 265, highlighted by a 30-kill outburst vs. the Winnipeg Wesmen on Jan. 4. He also ranked among the conference leaders in kills per set (3.23, ninth), total digs (131, ninth), digs per set (1.60, 12th) and in hitting percentage (.254, 12th).
Benne represented the Netherlands at the U20 European Championships in 2018, helping the squad to a fourth-place finish, and his club side, Talent Team Papendal-Arnhem, finished fifth in the nation’s top league. He plans to major in computing science at UFV.
“I was looking for a new challenge with a fresh and up-and-coming team,” said Benne. “The environment Nathan Bennett provides is very competitive and focused. His vision with the team makes me very excited to see what the future of this program has in store. My dreams at UFV are of course to win a championship, but mainly to improve and establish ourselves as a threat in the league that competes at the top with the best teams.”
“For us, it’s a game-changer,” Bennett said, reflecting on Benne’s signing. “It shows a lot of trust on Nimo’s side to come here and see what we’re doing, and understand this is a good spot for him to grow as an athlete and a student. He did a great job last season at Thompson Rivers University, and we’re excited to add a player of his pedigree in our quest to be a contending program in Canada West.”
Jonas Van Huizen
Langley Christian Secondary
Van Huizen’s spectacular prep career saw him recognized as the No. 2-ranked graduating senior in B.C. in the Class of 2020, per VarsityLetters.ca’s annual coaches’ poll to determine the province’s top 15 prospects. The Cascades now have two players from the upper echelon of that list, with Van Huizen joining No. 4 Tyson Ardell.
“We’re just ecstatic to have him,” Bennett said of Van Huizen, who had originally committed to Thompson Rivers before changing course and choosing the Cascades. “He’s a special athlete, and he has a very high ceiling when it comes to the setting position. He adds a competitive nature to our program, and a high volleyball IQ. We’re pleased to continue to build with local talent, and we’re happy that Jonas has chosen us as we build our competitive environment.”
Van Huizen’s sparkling high school tenure saw him lead the Langley Christian Lightning to a silver medal at the B.C. AA championships in 2019. He earned back-to-back first team all-star nods at provincials in 2018 and 2019, and added MVP honours at the Eastern Valley championships last fall.
On the club scene, Van Huizen picked up U18 first team provincial all-star honours with the Fraser Valley Volleyball Club, and he joined forces with Ardell to help Team BC win gold at the Canada Cup in Halifax in 2019.
“I chose UFV because I want to create a legacy here,” said Van Huizen, who plans to study business. “Being UFV’s first year playing U SPORTS volleyball, I can be a part of something great. The team has a lot of potential to do amazing things in the next three or four years, along with a coach who has experience playing at the top level and knows what we will need to be successful. We have a great group of guys who all have the common goal of winning and creating a legacy that will continue on for many years to come.”