Filling the void

Ivo Dramov part of long-term solution to replace core of OUA champions

Middle hitter Michael Amoroso is one of eight players not returning for the 2012-13 season.
Middle hitter Michael Amoroso is one of eight players not returning for the 2012-13 season.

Having lost nearly its entire core to graduation, the men’s volleyball team has brought in a strong
five-man recruiting class — one with a distinct international flavour.

Ivo Dramov, a native of Plovdiv, Bulgaria, will be the first international player to suit up for Queen’s in Brenda Willis’ 25 years as head coach. Dramov, a 6’3 libero, played for the Bulgarian youth national team in 2010 and 2011, leading the team to a 6th place finish at the 2011 Youth World Championship.

“I’ve always wanted to combine university and high-level volleyball.” Dramov said. “Hopefully I can play a key role on the team next year.”

Eight players are departing from the team, which advanced to the semifinals of the 2012 CIS national championships. The group includes the five members of Willis’ celebrated 2007 recruiting class: outside hitters Bryan Fautley, Niko Rukavina and Joren Zeeman; middle Michael Amoroso; and setter Dan Rosenbaum.

Dramov will be joined by outside hitters Jackson Payne, Markus Trence and Matt Golas, and middle Will Hoey.

Payne said he is very excited to attend Queen’s in the fall as an athlete, as well as a student.

“When Brenda showed interest in me at OVA Provincials during my grade 11 year, I was determined to work hard to get the marks that would get me into Queen’s,” Payne said. “As a rookie, I hope to bring a lot of leadership and energy on and off the court.”

Willis expects a great deal of competition within this group for the vacant starting spots.

“There will be tremendous internal competition for starting positions,” she said. “That kind of rivalry and youthful enthusiasm will make for an intense and exciting practice environment.”

Willis’s goal for next season is to qualify for the OUA playoffs, while having her young players gain experience for years to come.

“A goal for me with this group is establishing the way we want to play and getting better at it,” she said. “It’s sort of like a bank account — every time we invest in a match, we want to benefit from our investment later on.”

—With files from Peter Morrow

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