CIS: Men's Championship Preview

The  CIS Men's Championships are going down this weekend at the University of Saskatchewan, and Volleyball Source will be your number one home for all your live streams, news and results. Here's a preview of what's in store on the men's side this weekend. 

York - OUA Bronze Medalist  (7) vs Dalhousie - AUS Champion  (2) - 1:00 p.m. CST

The York Lions are lead by senior and All-Canadian Ray Szeto. Szeto passed 1000 kills for his career this season. He is joined by veterans Nikola Sandic and Marko Dakic who are looking to close out their careers by adding to their OUA Bronze Medal success. 

York defeated Queen’s University in their Quarter final. The Lions fell to Waterloo in their semi final at OUA Final 4. The Lions showed a lot of grit with their ability to bounce back and defeat Windsor 3-2 after going down 0-2. 

As per usual, Ray Szeto will carry the load for the York Lions Photo: Everett Delorme

As per usual, Ray Szeto will carry the load for the York Lions Photo: Everett Delorme

Ray Szeto has remained consistent through the Lions playoff run. Look for CIS and OUA Rookie of the Year Josh Henderson to be the difference in how York plays at the CIS Finals. In their two playoff wins Henderson 559% with 22 kills vs Queens and 652% with 18 kills vs Windsor. Waterloo was able to slow him down to .093 in their OUA semi final where the Warriors beat the Lions 3-1. 

Dalhousie is battle tested when it comes to the CIS Championships. The Tigers competed at the CIS Championships for 25 straight years until UNB ended their run in 2012-13. Dalhousie quickly bounced back and regained their AUS crown in 2013-14 and again this year defeating UNB 2-0 in the AUS Final. Last year at CIS they finished 6th, with an opening round loss to Laval, win over Montreal and finishing off with a 4 set loss to Trinity Western. Look for AUS MVP Bryan Duquette to lead his team into the event. Fellow AUS All Star and outside hitter Kristen O’Brian will also be depended on for the Tigers as they look to have a better run this season. 

These two teams are familiar with each other. York scheduled an East coast tour last year into their pre-season. The connection doesn’t stop there as York Head Coach Mike Chumbley is an alumni of Dal. Look for both these teams to have a solid plan on how to slow the other down. Even with solid production from Duquette and O’Brian on the outside for Dalhousie the advantage is still York’s with Szeto and Henderson on the pins. Dalhousie will need to win the battle up the middle. Look for Matthew Donovan and Connor Maessen to create a favourable matchup in the middle for the Tigers. Donovan knows the York middles well as he has gone through the Team Ontario Program with York’s Arthur Swarcz. Maessen and Donovan would have battled with Alexander Duncan-Thibault last year on York’s East Coast Tour. Lots of great match ups to look for in this quarter final. Dalhousie will need to rely on their experience in the event to avoid an early upset. 

Waterloo - OUA Silver Medalist (6) vs Alberta - Can West Champion (3) - 3:00 p.m. CST

Now that the dust has settled from Monday’s announcement of the rankings. Both teams have moved on and will have a plan in place for one another. 

Alberta enters the event as the Canada West Champions and defending CIS Champions with 5 returning starters from last year’s team . They received the bye to the Final Four by finishing first in the regular season. The Golden Bears defeated UBC in their semi final and Trinity Western in the Canada West Final 3-1.  

Ryley Barnes already has one CIS title, can he get another?  Photo: Alberta Golden Bears

Ryley Barnes already has one CIS title, can he get another?  Photo: Alberta Golden Bears

Ryley Barnes will continue his dominance at this event. He is arguably the best left side in the CIS today. Moving down the line the Bears are loaded with bluechip setter and middle Brett Walsh and John Goranson. If Waterloo has a great plan that slows them down, Alberta can look to Kevin Proudfoot to lead the way. Libero Reed May rounds out the 5 starters returning from last season. 

Waterloo finally got the purple monkey off their back! The last 3 seasons Waterloo always had a great regular season and an appearance at the OUA Final 4 only to lose to Garrett May and the Western Mustangs. This year Waterloo defeated Western 3-2 in their quarter final to advance to the OUA Final Four. The Warriors carried that momentum into the semis where they defeated York 3-1. Having already punched their ticket to CIS Championships with their semi final win, the Warriors accepted the underdog role vs McMaster. They will once again play the underdog role in this quarter final. 

This match showcases the two of best liberos the province of Ontario has ever produced as Erich Woolley and Reed May face off. Woolley a former CIS Libero of the year will have to come up big to help slow down the high powered Bears offence. Reed May has won Provincial and National Championships at the club and beach level growing up in Scarborough Ontario. He looks to add to his impressive resume with a second CIS Gold Medal. 

Waterloo’s veteran Right Side Zachary Doherty will lead the team as they enter the CIS Championships. Doherty, an OUA Second Team All Star lead the Warriors in kills and total attempts this season. Look for him to get the most volume once again. To compete with a tough Golden Bears team, Waterloo will have to continue to rely on their strong middle play. 1st Team OUA All Star Jordan Dyck  and 2nd Team OUA All Star Jordan McConkey will be key to score and slow down the Bears offence. 

Both of these teams are well coached. Alberta’s experience and skill may be to much for the Warriors to handle. Waterloo’s first contact on serve and serve receive will be the difference if they are able to stick around and cause some stress against Alberta. Waterloo can play at a high level if they remain in system. If the Golden Bears can attack them from the service line their skill will take over and they won’t look back. 

Trinity Westen - Can West Silver Medalist  (5) vs Laval - RSEQ Champion (4) - 6:00 p.m. CT

Pascal Clement continued his impress streak into the CIS Championship this year with by coaching Laval to their 18th consecutive RSEQ Championship. The Rouge et Or have the longest streak in CIS Men’s Volleyball. Their opponents, the Trinity Western Spartans are no stranger to the event as this marks their 6th straight appearance. Both teams will be well prepared for this years event as they look to regain their places on top of the CIS Volleyball World. Laval won the event in 2013 and finished 4th last year. Trinity Western won back to back titles in 2011 and 2012. Their current roster looks to improve on their 5th place finish from last year. 

Canada West Player of the Year Nick Del Bianco  Photo: Trinity Western Spartans

Canada West Player of the Year Nick Del Bianco  Photo: Trinity Western Spartans

The reason you can’t say Alberta’s Ryley Barnes the best left side in the CIS without and argument is because of the play of 2015 CIS Most Outstanding Player and Canada West MVP Nick Del Bianco. Watching the Canada West Final it was clear to see that Nick does things that no other player in Canadian University can do. If Trinity is going to end their 2 year quarter final drought it will be on the back of Nick’s strong net play and dominance from the service line. Ryan Sclater of the Spartans will be looked upon to help take some of the stress away from Del Bianco. Ryan was a 2nd Team All Star in Canada West this year.  For Trinity to make it deep into this year’s event they will need Del Biano, Sclater and Can West Libero of the Year Tyler Koslowsky to control the serve receive game for them. If right side Blake Scheerhoorn can have a breakout quarter it may spark the Spartans past the Rouge et Or and challenge the #1 seeded Maraders in the semis. 

Laval will need veteran Bruno Lortie to lead the team this year. Fans will remember Bruno’s trademark celebrations all over the gym when Laval won the title on home court in 2013. Watch for him to calm things down with this year’s team as they will lean on him in hopes of improving on their 4th place finish from last year. Libero Vincent Thibault-Bernier will have to continue his RSEQ Award winning play for Laval to advance in the event. The x-factor in this match will be RSEQ Rookie of the Year and MVP Vicent P. Villaiobos. Vicent’s inexperience at CIS finals may be exposed by Trinity, or he could continue his dominance on the biggest stage. His performance will be the difference in this match. Laval relies on him to get the job done, if Ben Josephson and the TWU Spartans have an answer for him they will surely advance. 

McMaster - OUA Champions (1) vs Saskatchewan - Host (8) - 8:00 p.m. CST

Hopefully the University of Saskatchewan Huskies fan base comes out in full force to pack the gym Thursday night. The Huskies will need home court advantage to spark their line up as they enter the CIS Championship after a long lay off. The Huskies just missed the playoffs in Canada West. Time will tell if rest has turned into rust at this point. Home court advantage may not be as big of a factor this year as the Huskies may hope. This year marks the 3rd straight CIS Championship where McMaster will face off vs the host team. Last year they played Calgary in the quarter final. In 2013 McMaster lost in the final to the host Rouge et Or at Laval.  

Saskatchewan will need Senior left side and Can West 2nd Team All Star Paul Thomson to carry the load once again. Thomson lead the team in Kills and points this season. The Huskies will have experience on their side as seniors Jordan Nowakowski, Matthew Busse, and Robert Graham will all start versus the Marauders. Don’t let the Huskies record fool you. They just missed the Can West playoffs and have wins over Canada West playoff teams such as Manitoba, Brandon, UBC and Winnipeg. Losing to both Trinity Western and Thompson Rivers in 5 sets during 2 of their last 4 matches sealed their fate this year. This team played against the countries best this season, look for them to bring some grit and bring everything they have versus McMaster. 

OUA Player of the Year Danny Demyanenko and teammates are looking to complete the set with a gold medal this weekend  Photo: Everett Delorme

OUA Player of the Year Danny Demyanenko and teammates are looking to complete the set with a gold medal this weekend  Photo: Everett Delorme

McMaster has won the last 3 OUA Championships. They look to medal for the third straight season at CIS Championships. Mac returns all of their key pieces from last year’s bronze medalist teams. The majority of their roster was also a part of the silver medalist from 2013. OUA Player of the year Danny Demyanenko will show why he was the most dominate player in Ontario this year. It will be interesting if any middle in the CIS can find an answer for Demyanenko. Danny will go into battle with senior outside hitter Jori Mantha and setter Austin Campion-Smith. The verterns on McMaster are looking to add a gold medal to their bronze and silver CIS Medal collection this year. CIS Coach of they Year Dave Preston will have depth on his side as the Marauders are posed to peak at the right time this year. If outside hitters Stephen Maar, Brandon Koppers, and Jori Mantha are not on top of their game Dave can quickly bring in Junior National Team players Andrew Richards and Jayson McCarthy to right the ship. Andrew Kocur also provides some depth for the double sub that McMaster looks to use late in matches. 

Saskatchewan will be fired up for the start of this match. If they can control their emotions while still feeding off the crowd they will have a shot. The long lay off may prove to be to much as the Marauders are peaking at the right time and are favoured to play in their 3rd straight semi final.