Already up 1-0 in their best-of-three series against Montreal, no. 5-Laval Rouge et Or clinched its 9th consecutive RSEQ title with an exciting 3-2 victory over the Carabins last Friday.
With a two set advantage and a hostile crowd in Montreal, the Carabins seemed determined to force a third outing. However, Laval didn’t intend on playing on Sunday. The explosive combination of Tommy Bélisle (RSEQ MVP) and Olivier Jannini took charge of the match and lifted the Rouge et Or back into it.
Laval took sets three and four, and the pressure was too high for the Carabins. The CIS reigning champs ended the match and the RSEQ season with a 15-7 win in the fifth, claiming the 30th conference title of their history. Bélisle and Jannini were responsible for 34 of Laval’s points, while rookie Alexandre Giguère tallied a massive total of seven solo blocks.
Alyson Francillon had a good game on the losing side, with 13 kills and a 47.8% efficiency rate.
Both squads are off to the CIS Championship in Calgary since Laval won the national tournament last winter, allowing an extra spot for an RSEQ team this year. The fifth-seeded Rouge et Or will take on Dalhousie in the first quarterfinal of the championship, while Montreal will play against top-ranked Alberta.
Laval and Montreal were also going head to head in the women’s best-of-three series of the RSEQ. “Les Bleus” took the first match in Montreal, but the Red and Gold was able to level the series with a quick 3-0 win in Quebec City last Friday.
Laval easily took set one 25-14 but was down 18-24 in the second. Montreal couldn’t seal the set as the home team rallied back to take a 2-0 priority by a score of 28-26. No. 4-Montreal couldn’t find its way back into this one, and Laval flew away with a 25-19 win in the third, forcing a third and final match.
The last chapter of the Quebec City-Montreal battle was one for the ages. The two-hour-plus game had everything a volleyball fan wants to see: powerful kills, wonderful digs, creative play - even though those two teams played each other seven times this year - and multiple momentum shifts.
When Laval started off strong despite the loud fans, Montreal’s play was shaky. When the Carabins came back to what made them one of the CIS powerhouses all year long, Laval had no answer. Every point was a battle, the intensity was high.
Laval was up early with a 25-19 first set win. Montreal took sets two and three and was playing with a lot of confidence. They looked to be in good shape to end the drama. This was not the case.
In a fourth set where no team took an advantage of more than three points, Laval fought until the end to level the match with a 26-24 win. The Rouge et Or followed the same path in the fifth, leading 5-2 and 14-9 and ultimately claiming its first RSEQ title since 2011.
The stakes were high for that final: not only did the winner went home with the RSEQ champs’ banner, but it also meant a trip to Regina to be the sole Quebec representative at the CIS Championship which is set to start Friday. Fourth-seed Laval will meet the McMaster Marauders in the last quarterfinal of day 1.