Three seniors earn All-Conference honors for club men's volleyball
Marcus Johns, Andre Bonneville and Xavier Remmo have led GVSU to a No. 19 national rank
GVL / Courtesy - GVSU Club Sports
The driving force of senior leadership has once again vaulted Grand Valley State men’s club volleyball into the national tournament.
All-Conference award winners Marcus Johns, Andre Bonneville and Xavier Remmo have led the Lakers to the No. 19 rank in the nation. Their combination of talent and experience at the college level are allowing the Lakers to thrive.
But Johns, Bonneville and Remmo haven’t been playing volleyball very long. In fact, not one of them had ever played on an official team until coming to GVSU.
Bonneville and Johns had been around the game for several years prior to GVSU and understood how it was played, though they had never played competitively. Remmo, however, had no experience with volleyball.
“Last year, Joey Martin, our setter, was playing sand volleyball with me,” Remmo said. “He set me the ball and I hit it as hard as I could at the time, straight down. He just looked over at me and asked if I played volleyball. I said no, not really. I just jump and hit.”
The jumping and hitting was enough for Martin. He invited Remmo to the team tryout and the Laker’s newly found weapon began his career.
Remmo made his way onto the GVSU D3 team in the fall of 2015 as a junior before being bumped up to the D1 team later in the season. His raw athleticism immediately made him stand out. The middle blocker has made the occasional move to outside hitter and right hitter during the current season, dominating wherever he is along the net because of his 39.5-inch vertical.
“He took his first swing at conference last year and he hit a quick ball as hard as he could into the deep corner,” Johns said. “I think my mouth dropped. Watching him get that high over a block and bounce a ball in the deep corner is impressive.”
Remmo is currently averaging 2.67 kills per set, 0.22 aces per set and 0.38 blocks per set. His play has earned him second-team All-Great-Midwest Men’s Volleyball Conference honors in just his second season ever playing the sport.
Bonneville, in his fourth year with the team, has been a driving force defensively from the libero position. His versatility has allowed him to play every position on the floor at one point or another.
“Now that I was the setter this past tournament, I’ve officially played every position on the court at least once,” he said. “Last year at conference I had to hit outside, and I’ve been a libero and I’ve been a (defense specialist). I’ve done a little bit of everything.”
Bonneville’s team has seen countless examples of his defense directly leading to important points in situations where, had he not been on the court, the Lakers never would have scored.
On March 5, against Dayton in the GMMVC tournament championship game, Bonneville pulled off an awe-inspiring play helping the Lakers go 9-0 on the weekend to capture their second straight conference title, Johns said.
Bonneville had just served and was still positioning himself for the return when Dayton sent the ball back over the net. Lunging to where the ball was headed, the 5-foot-8 libero made a jaw-dropping dig to keep the play alive.
“He fell mid-split and dug this ball when it was probably coming at him at 75 miles per hour,” Johns said. “He shouldn’t have touched it at all, but he dug it over the net and we got the kill off of it. Watching him dig that ball in mid-split was very impressive.”
The libero has tallied 164 digs so far this season, averaging over five digs per game since Friday, March 3, and is completing about 43 percent of his passes. His performances have earned him the GMMVC Defensive Player of the Year award. Bonneville is the second straight Laker libero to win the honor after Brett Michaud won it in 2016.
Johns completes the senior trio. The six-year senior has been the go-to player in each of his years with GVSU’s top team.
“He’s easily our most reliable player in terms of scoring,” Remmo said. “When the score is 15-15 or 16-15, and we need to score the next point in order to keep the game alive, we’ll toss it to him no matter what.”
Johns has set the bar high for himself and for the team. The middle blocker knows the Lakers are at their best when everyone is at the top of their game and he can let his talents shine.
“At the conference championships, the team saw how badly I wanted to win this two years in a row,” Johns said. “I think that inspired them to come meet me at my level of intensity, instead of them staying low and me being high, because we’ve had problems with that before.”
Johns was recognized for his outstanding play this season with the GMMVC Player of the Year award. He led the Lakers in the regular season with .07 kills per set, .59 aces per set and a .299 hitting percentage, while averaging the second most digs with 2.85 per set and the third most blocks with 0.34 per set.
His superiority on the court has shined on multiple occasions, Bonneville said, but none more clearly than the 2016 conference championship game against Dayton.
“Between three games he ended up getting 50 kills,” Bonneville said. “Just every ball went to him and he was putting everything away. It was the craziest performance I’ve ever seen in volleyball. It was incredible, especially with the deficit we were facing with missing a couple of players.”
Johns, Bonneville and Remmo will lead the charge into the national tournament April 12 in Kansas City. Their first opponent has not yet been announced.