Bustos Feature in the Nanaimo Daily News

October 14th, 2012

Import player finds home at VIU after year in San Diego
Ben Ingram
Daily News

Abe Avender figured he had made a decent addition when he welcomed right side Diego Bustos to the Vancouver Island University Mariners men's volleyball team this season, but it didn't take long for the San Diego import to show he was better than advertised.

Bustos, 21, was nominated by the team for player of the week after a strong showing against the Camosun College Chargers last week. While VIU (1-1) dropped the first decision 3-0 to the Chargers in Victoria on Oct. 12, they followed it up the next day with a 3-2 win.

For a team that went 20-4 last season before a heartbreaking upset in the provincial final to the Douglas College Rams, Bustos' dynamic play could go a long way towards achieving vindication.

With only four players remaining from last year's 14, Avender already has high expectations for the new addition.

"He has all the tools we need to use him in any type of offensive system or defensive system," Avender said. "It's huge."

A typical player on the right-side position tends to be large and tough on offence. The Mariners were delighted that Bustos also brought a defensive package to his play as well.

But when he hit the court last weekend, he showed a whole new gear.

"He's way above my expectations. He's a gamer," Avender said. "Diego is a great swinger from the front row and the back row, I think he'll be a huge resource for us this season."

In 2011 the team was defeated during the bronze medal game of the provincial championships. They followed that season up with last year's berth in the final. After waving goodbye to two all-Canadians and a number of fifth-year veterans, Avender knew he had much work ahead of him to maintain the team's upward trajectory.

But it was Bustos who sought them out by contacting the coach and sharing videos of his play.

The young athlete had made up his mind to head north of the border in order to save on tuition costs and VIU offers its international athletes the domestic rate.

For team and athlete, it was something of a perfect fit.

"Our recruiting was really, really top notch this year. We've got some awesome players come in that have already made an impact," Avender said. "I want to be the best program in the country."

With 10 new players on the team, locking down a top starting line is a week-to-week business.

While the team's new members are working to learn the system, the coaching staff are busy getting to know the personalities and playing styles of their new assets, separating the starters from the relievers and the energy players from the more mellow athletes.

Fortunately for the team, Bust-os is fitting right in.

"It took me no time to adapt to this team," he said. "The coaches, they're really helpful and my teammates are really friendly. Everyone's pursuing the same goal, going to (the Canadian College Athletic Association championships). It gets you really hyped up."

The right-side will likely be called upon again this week when the Mariners face Columbia Bible College (2-0) in Abbotsford. CBC has also undergone a major rebuild after welcoming a new coach and 13 new players.

The teams play Friday at 8 p.m. and again on Saturday at 3 p.m. The VIU women play CBC Friday and Saturday before the men's games.