Coming off a national title with NAIT, high-flying New Zealand product Robert transferring to join the Griffins

Jarod Robert gets set to deliver a spin serve for the NAIT Ooks during a game last season (Courtesy, NAIT Oaks).
Jarod Robert gets set to deliver a spin serve for the NAIT Ooks during a game last season (Courtesy, NAIT Oaks).

Jefferson Hagen
MacEwan Athletics

EDMONTON – With a national title on his resume from earlier this month, the latest addition to Brad Poplawski's 2024-25 recruiting class is set to bring a championship pedigree to the MacEwan men's volleyball program.

Jarod Robert is transferring from NAIT where he helped the Ooks capture the Canadian Colleges Athletic Association championship in a victory over Titans Cegép de Limoilou on March 9 in Victoria, B.C.

"I texted him after they won – 'make sure you enjoy it,' " said Poplawski. "He said, 'hey man, so excited to win, but excited for next year.' 

"Right after he signed, he was at our last game of the season in his MacEwan hoodie. He's really excited to be here, his teammates are really excited to have him."

The Hamilton, New Zealand native will fill one of two international spots on MacEwan's roster, but he's almost a local product, playing for NAIT – a couple LRT stops away from MacEwan – the last two seasons.

"Obviously, living in Edmonton, he's got to know some of his future teammates over the last two years," said Poplawski. "Our guys are really excited to have him and he's really excited to be here. 

"He has some championship pedigree. He had a good career at New Zealand, and then came here and was starting on a team that won a national championship. I think that matters when you're performing when the lights are on and the pressure (is highest). He really rose to the occasion."

Poplawski's comparable for Robert is graduating senior Mitch Gorman, who led MacEwan in kills this past season. 

"He's not the biggest guy, but he jumps out of the gym, very physical, big spin serve – a ball control guy," he said of Robert. "For us, I see him as a left side. His ball control is amazing, his defence is great.

"He's one of those guys that you go 'whoa' when you see him jump," he added. "He will really add something that obviously we'll lose with Mitch graduating. He's a really scrappy player and just has lots of potential. Watching what he did in NAIT's playoff run was awesome defensive-wise."

Robert played with the New Zealand junior national team program prior to coming to Canada and has the potential to make a seamless transition from the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference to the higher-level Canada West ranks.

"He's really excited to be in the program," said Poplawski. "I think we're just going to keep developing that left-side potential with him because of his arm, his jump and his ability to hit different shots.

"We're really excited to have him. He will add a really good element to our team."