The Alberta Golden Bears will be the number one ranked team at the CIS men’s volleyball championships starting on Thursday at the University of Calgary.
For those of you who have been following the CIS, you’ll join me in the confusion. While the Golden Bears defeated the Trinity Western Spartans 3-0 on Saturday to clinch the Canada West title, they finished the season with a 15-7 record. They haven’t been ranked number one since the regular season week of November 5th. The very next week, they were knocked down in the rankings after a doubleheader loss to the same Spartans. They reached no higher than third Nationally after that week.
The team that was ranked number one for the majority of the year was the McMaster Marauders. They had a great year, going 19-1 and have been at the top since November 19th for all but one week. So did the Marauders have a breakdown in the OUA playoffs? Nope. They casually dismantled Ryerson 3-0, then grabbed their second title in a row defeating Western 3-1 in dominating fashion.
There’s no question that the Canada West is the strongest conference in the CIS. Most years, they could send three or four teams who could all compete for the title. This year, the Alberta Golden Bears are receiving the top nod because of their legacy and the strength of the conference, not because of their play.
The top seed should go to the top team in the country, as their reward for being the best team over the course of the regular season. Trinity Western wasn't seeded first because they couldn't close it out and protect their number one seed, and Alberta clearly wasn't because they finished 15-7, third in the Canada West.
That team is unquestionably McMaster. Not only do they have the best record in the CIS, but they were at the top of the CIS for eight weeks. Comparatively, Alberta held the spot for the first four weeks of the campaign, while Trinity held the spot for two weeks (three if you count the week they spent tied with McMaster). The Marauders also boast a record of 3-1 against Canada West opponents this year with their only loss coming to (of course), Alberta. Considering they rebounded to defeat Trinity Western the very next day and the fact that these matches took place in October should also indicate how this is all relevant in March (hint: it's not).
As the top seed the Golden Bears will play the Montreal Carabins, a team who is only at this tournament because of Laval's play the year before. It's a clear mis-match, one that should be privy to the best team in the country. The Marauders on the other hand, will play the Calgary Dinos who could be a black-horse in the tournament. The host will have the benefit of a packed Jack Simpson Gym cheering them on which is always a dangerous spot to be in as the visiting team.
In the other matches, the No. 3 Trinity Western will have a chance to fight some demons against Western. The No. 6 Mustangs stormed back from a 2-0 deficit in last year's quarterfinals of the CIS Championships to stun the Spartans and crush their dreams of a CIS three-peat. The loss is not something the Canada West runners-up are likely the forget and there's little doubt that Western would like nothing more than to play spoilers once again.
In the final last quarterfinal, the battle of the East will continue when No. 4 Dalhousie and No. 5 Laval meet-up for the third time this year. The Tigers have come out on top on both occasions this season with 3-0 and 3-2 wins, however you would have to be as foolish as the people who make the rankings to count out the defending champs out.
1. Alberta Golden Bears (CWUAA champions: 15-7 regular season / 4-0 playoffs)
2. McMaster Marauders (OUA champions: 19-1 regular season / 2-0 playoffs)
3. Trinity Western Spartans (CWUAA finalists: 20-2 regular season / 1-1 playoffs)
4. Dalhousie Tigers (AUS champions: 13-4 regular season / 2-0 playoffs)
5. Laval Rouge et Or (RSEQ champions: 14-3 regular season / 2-0 playoffs)
6. Western Mustangs (OUA finalists: 17-3 regular season / 1-1 playoffs)
7. Calgary Dinos (Hosts: 11-11 regular season / 0-2 playoffs)
8. Montreal Carabins (RSEQ finalists: 6-11 regular season / 2-2 playoffs)
Thursday, February 27
12:30 Quarter-final #1: No. 4 Dalhousie vs. No. 5 Laval
14:30 Quarter-final #2: No. 1 Alberta vs. No. 8 Montreal
18:00 Quarter-final #3: No. 3 Trinity Western vs. No. 6 Western
20:00 Quarter-final #4: No. 2 McMaster vs. No. 7 Calgary
Friday, February 28
12:30 Consolation #1: Loser QF #1 vs. Loser QF #2
14:30 Consolation #2: Loser QF #3 vs. Loser QF #4
18:00 Semifinal #1: Winner QF #1 vs. Winner QF #2
20:00 Semifinal #2: Winner QF #3 vs. Winner QF #4