CIS Men's Quarter-Final in Review: Laval vs. UNB

UNB 5 Julio Hernandez featured heavily in the first quarter-final of the CIS Nationals. This time, he managed to get it passed a late block.

Friday March 4th, 2011

Langley Events Centre

Langley, British Columbia

Laval Rouge et Or vs. UNB Varsity Reds

The very first match of the 2011 CIS National Championships featured Laval
against the University of New Brunswick. These two teams, both being from the
Eastern side of Ontario, had met multiple times through the year. Laval, regularly

ranked first nationwide, came in as the heavy favourite against a team that generally hung around 10th ranked in the country. However, recently crowned CIS Coach of the Year Dan McMorran and his boys had other thoughts on their minds.


Both of these squads had to travel a great distance, and it showed early on in
their performance. Each team gets a practice schedule depending on their game
times, but realistically it can be difficult to travel across four time zones and be
expected to play at peak performance on the first day of competition. These two
teams, who are among the best our country produces, started off with a bit of
rust.

UNB's 5 Julio Fernandez's first attack rolled along the tape but never made it
over the net. On the next play, two of his teammates fail to call the ball and their
hands collide due to their miscommunication. Fernandez got blocked again
before his first successful attack, but the slow start allowed Laval to pull ahead to
an early 7-2 lead.

The first player to begin collecting points was Laval's 5 Frederic Mondou. A clean
kill from the power player put the Rouge et Or ahead 8-3. His libero, 12 Pierre-
Alexis Lapointe, contributed an incredible dig that the setter immediately
transitioned into a Mondou kill. Where simple consistency was the name of the
game early for Laval, now Mondou woke up his team with some aggression.

After a mediocre serve receive that failed to result in an attack, UNB did manage
to mount some offence with a hard attack from 4 Matt Sweet. But on the ensuing
play SweetÕs error on attack ended what was the best rally of the set. After a
UNB set handcuffed their star middle, 15 Jacob Kilpatrick, the Varsity Reds found
themselves down 16-6. A missed serve on their next attempt did nothing to help
them build momentum.

At 22-11, Sweet put down a hard kill in an attempt to reset the tone. Kilpatrick got
the message, and blocked Laval's 4 Karl De Grandpre on the next play. Laval fed
De Grandpre on their very next set, and Kilpatrick shut him down in the exact
same fashion. The next set? Right to De Grandpre. The result? A huge Kilpatrick
block. Julio Fernandez contributed a point off the tape, and suddenly the deficit is
five points at 22-17.

Unfortunately, the slow awakening process was too much to deal with. Kilpatrick
really put up a great effort, but Laval still only needed three points after the 6-0
UNB run. One point fell between UNB players as they failed to communicate
audibly. A great rally back and forth ended in LavalÕs favour as 1 Frederic
Desbiens put away a backcourt attack to get to set point. A cheeky dump on the
second ball from 16 Justin Boudreault won the set 25-18 for Laval.

The second set opened with less errors, as the two teams began to find their
groove. Laval's De Grandpre opened the set with two points. Next, Desbiens put
up a huge block against UNB's 10 Tyler Veenhuis. When UNB did manage a
side out, Kilpatrick missed his serve to give the advantage right back. By the time
the smoke clears, Laval pulled ahead 9-3.

Jacob Kilpatrick was recently awarded the Dale Iwanoczko Award for the CIS
volleyball player that performs best as an athlete, student, and member of their
community. He also was named amongst the Desjardins Academic All-
Canadians, which is amongst all CIS sports rather than simply volleyball. This is
not the kind of player to sit down and let his team lose, and he powered a ball
through the Laval block to regain service. However, the setter 9 Stephane
Fontaine missed that serve. Fontaine was then called for lifting the ball while
trying to salvage a tough pass. With that, he was pulled off the court in favour of
3 Andrew Costa.

New setter or not, the damage was done. By the time Kilpatrick managed to get
another point off a quick, Laval amassed a 15-7 lead. UNB tried to fight back with
a tip, but Laval managed to keep every tip, roll, or dump off the floor consistently
throughout the match. No comeback ever started in the second set, and Laval
ran away with it 25-14.


The third set was a different story entirely. The squads managed to put together
consistent defence, which made for great rallies. However, just as momentum
entered, missed serves became a staple of the set. Laval's Desbiens missed two
serves before either team managed 10 points. After Desbiens' second, UNBÕs
Sweet missed one of his own. The early battle for points meant that the scores
remained close at 10-8.

Laval's De Grandpre put a block up against Veenhuis, and Laval's ensuing serve
went for an ace. The 13-9 lead marked the largest of the set. Not up until that
point, but after as well. UNB put together some points from Veenhuis and
Hernandez to tighten the gap. Suddenly, both teams realize the set was up for
grabs. The rallies began. Hernandez had a hard backcourt attack dug by Laval,
but Veenhuis ended the long rally with a backcourt attack of his own. A Varsity
Reds' block from 14 John Sheehan tied the set at 14-14.

From that point on, neither team led by more than a point until the inevitable set-
winning point. A missed serve would be responded with a missed serve. Laval's
Desbiens put a ball wide, but responded immediately with a hard kill from the
right side. UNB put in 12 Jonathan Tower specifically in to serve, and his first
attempt went for an ace. His next serve was passed perfectly, and Laval's 15
Jeremie Lortie put the ball away hard. It became a hard fought contest, and both
teams took turns leading.

The first set point went to Laval at 24-23. They managed a dig immediately, but
their players failed to talk aloud and collided. The miscommunication forced extra
points. Lortie put away a huge quick and screamed out like a behemoth to put
Laval up 25-24. But Desbiens missed his serve, forcing more points. Lortie put
away a kill, again, to give Laval their third set point. This time the team came
together for a huge block. Often it's the more professional teams that hold it
together late. Laval looked professional in a tense moment. The Rouge et Or win
the set 27-25
, and move on to the CIS Semi-Finals with their straight set victory.

Laval will play at either 6:00 pm PST or 8:00 PST in the semi-finals, while the UNB Varsity Reds will be playing in the morning in the consolation bracket.