Womens OUA Playoff Preview

The OUA Regular Season has come to a close, and the playoffs are looking promising for some heated competition. The women will begin the quarter-finals on February 19th, with both the East and West conferences having all of their matches on the same day. The winners of each match will move forward to the East and West finals, where they will play off for the right to call themselves conference champions. After that, the two conference winners play off for the title of OUA Champions.

February 19th, OUA East semi-final #1

(4) RMC vs. (1) York

2:00 pm @ York

RMC is an incredibly young team. That isn’t to say they aren’t a talented bunch, as their play is quite impressive. Even making the playoffs is an incredible accomplishment, when you consider they beat out U of T, who had a string of playoff appearances lasting 20 years. Additionally, RMC’s men didn’t manage to win a single game this year. Clearly, something has turned around in their women’s program, and they are preparing for a competitive future. Their huge amount of first-year players will likely hold them back from any real playoff accomplishments, but this is a team to watch in the future.

The York Lions spent the majority of this regular season undefeated. Their streak lasted into 2011, and as a result they come into the playoffs as one of the bracket favourites. With captain Sarah Sutton returning to the lineup after injury, this team essentially has no holes. York should be held to a high standard of play in the playoffs, and anything less than an appearance in the overall finals will come as a disappointment. Sorry to put that much pressure on the young women and coach Nick Tran, but his team has something to prove.

February 19th, OUA East semi-final #1

(3) Queen’s vs. (2) Ottawa

5:00 pm @ Ottawa

 

The Queen’s Gaels have proven all season that they are a highly competitive team. In their last weekend of play, they managed to beat a highly ranked McMaster team, before losing to the #1 rank in the West, Guelph. Their squad has so much depth that any single injury shouldn’t sidetrack the team. In the playoffs, it will all come down to who has the hot hand and if they can sustain the momentum. We know that Katie Matthews, Natalie Gray, and Natalie Fisher will come to play, but it will be the rest of the Gaels’ lineup that determines whether this is a team vying for the finals, or simply another competitive team that adds to the OUA’s increasing depth.

Ottawa has put together an impressive campaign this year. The Gee Gees had a glass ceiling above them for most of the season, due to York’s undefeated campaign lasting so long. However, Ottawa never stumbled and essentially maintained their second rank for the duration of the season. Consistent play, and potentially benefiting from the furthest travel distance forced upon visiting teams, made Ottawa one of the OUA’s best teams. That distance will come in to play once more, as they’ll host Queen’s on Friday. If Ottawa comes out fresh, and Queen’s stutters for a moment after their two-hour trip, it will be a wrap for the Gee Gees.

February 19th, OUA West semi-final #1

(4) Brock vs. (1) Guelph

6:00 pm @ Guelph

Brock’s team managed to stay in the top three in the West for the majority of the year. However, they played a heavy load of games early on, and most teams were playing catch up. It made the standings a complicated issue. When it came down to it, the Western Mustangs managed to leapfrog them in the standings right at the end of the season. Brock will now have the unenviable task of taking on the best squad that the West has to offer, the Guelph Gryphons. Is it possible for Brock to upset the home squad this weekend? Of course. The OUA is an incredibly competitive league with high level volleyball played by every team. If Brock comes out with a fire lit under themselves, they have a chance. But if everything is equal, and they cannot salvage some form of early advantage, it will be a long night for Brock.

The Gryphons ended their season with a win over the Queen’s Gaels. The night before, the Gaels managed to beat McMaster, giving Guelph the edge they needed to move into first position. This will give them a great advantage, both by playing the weaker Brock squad early, and by guaranteeing them home court advantage should they move on to the next round. I hope they aren’t looking past Brock, but I have the luxury to do so. Both Western and McMaster will be tough matches for them, regardless of who wins, and that home court advantage could end up proving the difference maker. Guelph’s strong regular season play has given them a real chance at moving into the OUA Championship.

February 19th, OUA West semi-final #1

(3) Western vs. (2) McMaster

6:00 pm @ McMaster

The Western Mustangs had their fair share of obstacles this week. As reported, their bus exploded into flames as they made the trip back from Toronto. We cannot confirm exactly how much damage occurred, but some kneepads, jerseys, personal possessions, and the bus itself were ruined in the fire. That means that Western will be scrambling to be prepared for their first playoff match, which they must travel to McMaster to play. Who knows where their mental states will be coming into the game. If they can take it on as a challenge, they may come out more determined than ever. Most likely, however, is something like this will bother some players at some intangible level. It’s hard to bet on Western, but hopefully they’ll be able to rise above and play some competitive volleyball.

The Marauders have put together an impressive season. Their team defence is impeccable, and can lead to teams becoming incredibly frustrated as their hardest attacks come back effortlessly. They’ll be playing in their home gym, and the Burridge Gym is one of the best facilities in the OUA. The only issue arose in their match this past weekend in Kingston. 7 Kaila Janssen, their fourth year starting offside player, went down clutching her ankle after getting tangled up with a teammate. Her status is unknown at this point, and whether or not she plays could end up being a key factor in the playoffs. The deeper they go, the more likely she is to heal, and so the Marauders will be hoping that Western’s mind stays on their bus fiasco.

Each conference final will be played on February 25, 2011, hosted by the highest remaining ranked teams.

The OUA Championship will be held the following day, February 26, 2011.

Check back with Kill on Two for updates, live scores, links to streaming video, and more.