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McKay lands large left side from Brandon

Liam Kristjanson of Brandon's Crocus Plains has committed to Larry McKay and the Wesmen men's volleyball team for the 2019-20 season.
Liam Kristjanson of Brandon's Crocus Plains has committed to Larry McKay and the Wesmen men's volleyball team for the 2019-20 season.

On the advice of Larry McKay, Liam Kristjanson made sure he took his time when selecting his destination for his university volleyball career.

And, in the end, that process led him to Winnipeg and McKay's Wesmen men's volleyball team.

Kristjanson, a 6-foot-9 left side with the Crocus Plainsmen high school program and 204 Volleyball Club, has become the first member of the 2019-20 recruiting class, announcing his commitment to the Wesmen.

And while Kristjanson's height is notable and most definitely a plus, McKay is big on his versatility, having seen him play left side in high school and opposite in the provincial program.

"He had really good size. I watched him practice and he was over the net in a really large way," McKay said. "… He's already got the size and he may be growing still. He's long as well as tall and he's a good jumper, and he hits with a pretty high contact. And he seems like he's an excellent student, which is also a big deal when you're recruiting someone for over the course of five years."

Kristjanson had other suitors, he said. Having had discussions with UBC-Okanagan, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Brandon. But he listened to McKay and eventually found that U of W was the right fit for him.

"The most important thing for me was finding the right coach and Larry's an excellent coach, he's been in the Wesmen program for more than 30 years," Kristjanson said. "He's turned out a great number of athletes who have played for the national team, which is where I want to end up eventually. His team's been consistently competitive and he'll get the best out of the talent he has and I think those are great attributes for a coach."

Kristjanson will enroll in the Faculty of Applied Computer Science.

Currently playing basketball with the Plainsmen, Kristjanson will suit up for 204 in the spring before bringing his game to Winnipeg in September, and he's ready to take on whatever role that is asked of him.

"I've played pretty much every position except libero. I played setter for a couple of years," he said. "Every person on the volleyball court needs to know how to play every position because there's times when your setter's taken out and you have to become a setter, and there's times when you have to become a swinger out of the back row. I think in the general scheme of things it's important to be versatile. Because of my size, I could be thrown in left side, right side, middle and I think that's some value I can bring to the team."

Kristjanson was a member of the 2017 Volleyball Manitoba Select team and the 2018 provincial junior team, and was named a Manitoba high schools AAAA graduating all-star for head coach Aime Gaudry's Plainsmen.