Three members of the Mustangs men's volleyball team have been named Ontario University Athletics (OUA) West Division Second Team All-Stars for the 2016-17 campaign.
Fourth-year middle Chris Newcombe, third-year outside hitter Zeid Hamadeh and fifth-year middle Mike Choja were all honoured after leading Western to an 11-6 regular season and a quarter-final appearance in the OUA playoffs.
Both Newcome and Hamadeh are first time all-stars. Newcombe, a native of Tavistock, Ontario, finished the season with 0.89 blocks per set, along with 30 assisted and 20 solo blocks during the campaign. He also finished the season tied for third on the Mustangs leaderboard with 2.6 points per set.
Newcombe was redshirted in his first year, but emerged as one of the cornerstone pieces of the program.
Hamadeh will be the only returning all-star next season after a third year season that saw him compile an impressive resume. He finished the season ranked second on team with 2.9 points per set while adding 16 service aces along with 1.22 digs per set on the year.
Choja earned his second career OUA all-star selection after being named a second team all-star last season as well. In his final university volleyball season, Choja put together a dominant statistical year with 14 solo blocks and 37 assisted blocks.
Choja is proud of the back-to-back all-star selections, an accomplishment he believes is a testament to the hard work he has put in throughout his career.
"I've never really been one for personal accolades," Choja said. "I like to put the team first and that's always been a big mandate of mine. But this does really prove the hard work that has gone into my career and makes a lot of the time spent here all worth it."
Early in his career Choja had a difficult time cracking the Mustangs lineup. But after modelling his preparation and play after his predecessors on the roster, Choja became the face of the program this season.
"Starting off here I didn't get a ton of playing time or a ton of opportunity to prove myself. But I knew it was an opportunity to learn from the guys ahead of me and to really step up when my name was called and I'd like to think I can be remembered for that."
The Mustangs suffered a tough loss to Ryerson in the OUA quarter-finals to miss out on earning a berth in the Final Four.
But with a history of producing all-star calibre athletes and an exceptional incoming recruiting class, the Mustangs program has a bright future ahead.
"It definitely isn't a bad thing for recruiting," said Choja. "[Hamadeh] will be a great mentor for these guys next year as someone who just goes out there and does his job. Coming in it does build a great culture and also speaks to the power of the coaches here. And I have to owe a lot of my success to those guys."
The OUA named McMaster's Danny Demyanenko Player of the Year, while John Elgersma of Brock took home the Rookie of the Year honour. Dave Preston earned the Coach of the Year award after leading McMaster to a 17-0 regular season.