Volleyball fans wouldn’t have been going out on a limb to predict The Red Deer College Queens would win back to back gold medals. Few, however, could have predicted in what fashion they would earn it. The Queens were on everyone's radar. When you are the top team in the country you are going to get everyone’s best, because what do they really have to lose? Red Deer showed a lot of grit this year always answering the bell. They had a shaky start to the event dropping the opening set of the tournament to Édouard-Montpetit 25-13. They followed up that match defeating conference rival Grand Prairie 3-1 in the Semi Final after dropping the opener 27-25. Finally the Queens went the distance winning 3-2 in front of a Garneau crowd in Longueuil, Quebec.
Day 3 opened with Bronze Medal Semi Finals. The one flaw with the double elimination style bronze medal format is if you lose your gold medal semi final on the evening of Day 2 you have a very quick turnaround to play the next morning. I’m not making excuses for VIU or Grand Prairie they wouldn’t want me to and both teams had their chances to win this morning. The Vancouver Island University Mariners lost a tough one to Garneau last night at 6pm, resulting in them meeting their PACWEST rival Camosun this morning at 10am. Fatigue didn’t appear to be a factor in the first set as VIU lead most of the way until Hilary Graham lead a 5 point serving run for the Chargers. Camosun closed won the set 25-23, then carried that momentum into the 2nd winning 25-19. Some may have expected VIU to pack it in when they trailed at 15 in the 3rd set but they sparked a comeback to take the 3rd set 25-22. The 4th set was much of the same as it was close until a late charge sent this match to a 5th set. Camosun gained some ground just after the side change and never looked back with a 15-10 set win. Kathryn Fetting was named Player of the Game recording 17kills, 2 aces, 2 blocks. and 8 digs. Hilary Graham was solid with 9 kills, 1 block and 20 digs. Megan Rosenlund was awarded Player of the Game for the Mariners with 16 kills, 1 ace, 1 block, and 16 digs. Ashley Van Acken chipped in with 7 kills, and 4 blocks.
The Humber Hawks and Grande Prairie met in the other Bronze Medal Semi Final for the right to play Camosun. Grande Prairie would earn the first set 25-19. The second set was neck and neck the entire way. Kaitlyn Cordingley lead a run late for the Wolves to go up at 23. Humber would answer but Grande Prairie would close it out 26-24. That 2nd set battle had an interesting effect on the match as it looked to spark Humber and at times looked like Grande Prairie had little left in the tank. Humber won the next two sets 25-16 and 25-10. In the 5th set Humber trailed 8-10 before regaining their focus. All Canadian Thalia Hanniman was steady once again for the Hawks closing it out 15-11 from the service line. Hanniman would have 24 kills, 1 ace, and 10 digs. Rookie setter Brittany Vanderlaan contributed in all areas for the Hawks setting a great match and adding 6 aces and 13 digs. Cordingley finished the match with 10 kills, 2 aces, and 6 digs. Amy Norman lead the offence for the Wolves with 11 kills and 1 block.
Playing for 7th and 8th place at Nationals is never an easy match to get up for. Mount Saint Vincent University and Edouard Montoetit found a way to compete for their last chance to end their season with a win. The Lynx once again came roaring out of the gate winning their 3rd first set win of the tournament 25-14. Unlike the first two days they were able to battle to win their first 2nd set of the event 25-17. MSVU didn’t go away as they lead from the half way point until they finished off the set 25-17. The 4th set was a seesaw clash until The Lynx earned the lead at 20 and never looked back winning 25-21. Claire Veicheval was outstanding for Edouard Montoetit with 10 kills, 1 ace, 1 block, and 9 digs. Clemence Provost-Lussier had 11 kills, 3 blocks and 1 dig. Jaylene Fraser lead the way for the Mystics with 12 kills, and 2 digs. Madison Urquhart was impressive with 9 kills and 9 digs. To add to their victory, Édouard-Montpetit was awarded the Chuck Gullickson Trophy for their outstanding demonstration of fairplay.
In the Bronze Medal match up the Camosun Chargers found their way on the podium for the second straight year. Camosun jumped to an early 1-0 lead in the first set with a 25-17 win. Humber who was looking to capture the first OCAA Medal since Cambrian won Bronze in 2005. They looked to be in striking distance of this goal when they won the 2nd set 26-24. Coach of the Year Chris Dahl was able to adjust their game plan to cruise to a Bronze Medal win with 25-18 and 25-17 set wins to seal the deal. Hilary Graham continued her solid play today. She was named Player of the Game with 8 kills and 15 digs. Kelsey Kovar was Humber’s Player of the Game.
Fans were treated to a special final match of the 2015 National Championships. In the Gold Medal Match Red Deer starting quickly winning their first opening set of the tournament 25-22. Garneau answered quickly taken the 2nd set 25-19. They looked to be in control winning a tight 3rd set 25-22. Down 2-1 Red Deer was determined to force a 5th set. The intensity and stress of the event showed down the stretch for both teams. Aces landing in seems, a 2nd ball dropped, and missed serves and hitting errors after 20 showed that even at the highest of levels no player is immune from the high stakes that pressure brings. Red Deer closed out the 4th set 26-24 after being down 23-22. Garneau had a slight advantage in the 5th leading at the side change. Once again no lead was safe in this match as Red Deer found a way to end the long rallies late. Red Deer College was favoured to win their 2nd straight Gold medal but no one predicated they would have to earn it hard way battling to a 15-13 win to earn the Gold. Madelyn Quinn was Red Deer’s Player of the Game with 27 digs. Anne-Sophie Tanguay was Garneaus Player of the Game with 16 kills, 3 blocks, and 7 digs. Tanguay also earned 2nd Team All Star honours for the event.
Leah Koot of the Red Deer College Queens was selected Most Valuable Player for the 2015 National Championship.
Special thanks to Catherine Saucier and the event staff at Édouard-Montpetit. We really appreciated the stats and game sheets updates. Great job on the webcast as well! Overall it was a great event to cover.
2015 National Championship Award Winners
First All-Star Team
- Humber College Hawks - Thalia Hanniman
- Camosun College Chargers - Erika Sheen
- Cegep FX Garneau Élans - Myriam Adam
- Red Deer College Queens - Brownwyn Hawkes
- Cegep FX Garneau - Maud Chapleau
- Red Deer College Queens - Alex Donaghy
Second All-Star Team
- Vancouver Island University Mariners - Taylor Turnbull
- Grande Prairie College Wolves - Kaitlyn Cordingley
- Camosun College Chargers - Kathryn Fetting
- Humber College Hawks - Jolande Amoraal
- Cégep FX Garneau Élans - Anne-Sophie Tanguay
- Red Deer College Queens - Miranda Dawe