CIS: Spartans Golden for First Time

The Trinity Western Spartans won their first-ever CIS women's volleyball Championship this weekend with a 3-2 comeback win over the Alberta Pandas.

Vanessa Cornwall led the Spartans with 53 assists and 20 digs and was named Championship MVP  Photo: Trinity Western

Vanessa Cornwall led the Spartans with 53 assists and 20 digs and was named Championship MVP  Photo: Trinity Western

Setter Vanessa Cornwall was named Championship MVP playing a crucial role in leading the offence confidently all tournament long, especially when the Spartans were in a 2-0 hole. She led her team with 53 assists, 20 digs and three blocks in the final match. 

Alberta looked poised to be the first school since 1997 to capture both men's and women's volleyball titles in the opening frames, commanding the tempo of play with their tough serving from the get-go. Dione Lang was unstoppable down the middle while Meg Casault was dominant from the first few points. They took first first two 25-22 and 25-23.

Where the Spartans were succeeding, however, was shutting 6’4 Josephine Doerfler. Trinity Western held the german opposite to only seven points on 40 attempts, hitting a -.075. Casault led the match in kills with 18 on 68 attempts while Lang added another seven kill and three blocks. She was also Alberta’s most efficient attacker, hitting .200. 

Early in the third, it looked like Alberta was going to win their first title since 2007 with as much as a three-point lead at some points, but the big guns in blue came alive, and the Pandas couldn’t handle the onslaught. The four-pronged offence orchestrated by MVP Cornwall left gaps in Alberta’s defence, and her attackers took full advantage. Forcing the Pandas into hitting a -.027 in the third, the Spartans prolonged the match and never looked back. A dominant .351 team hitting percentage in the fourth was only topped by a blistering .391 in the fifth.

Holding the green and gold to just 10 kills in sets four and five combined, the Spartans could not be stopped and led 14-8 in the fifth. Jessica Stroud made things interesting with some tough serving, but Cornwall set Tournament All-Star Elizabeth Wendel for the final kill. Trinity Western swept the final three sets 25-15, 25-15, 15-11 to clinch the programs first CIS women’s volleyball gold medal.

A testament to Cornwall’s MVP nod, four Spartans finished with double-digit kills: Richardson (16), Wendel (16), Carpentier (15) and Perrin (11). 

Alicia Perrin was also named a Tournament All-Star as well as Alberta’s Jessie Niles who was phenomenal all match long for the Pandas, and led both teams with 23 digs. 


Carabins Outlast Varsity Blues for Bronze

After a rare absence from the tournament last year, the Montreal Carabins are National Bronze medalist after their 3-2 (25-15, 20-25, 20-25, 25-18, 15-13) win over the host Varsity Blues. 

Marie-Alex Bélanger was deadly in the Bronze medal match, picking 19 kills en route to being named as a Tournament All-Star  Photo: CIS

Marie-Alex Bélanger was deadly in the Bronze medal match, picking 19 kills en route to being named as a Tournament All-Star  Photo: CIS

After an opening set win by Montreal, Toronto took control of the match with a pair of 25-20 wins and it seemed like they were on the verge of winning the first medal for the OUA in a long time, but it wasn’t to be. Veteran Katia Forcier had other ideas for the Carabins, as the setter started the comeback from the baseline, then set a devastating offence led by Marie-Alex Bélanger and Marie-Sophie Nadeau in the absence of Vicky Savard who injured her ankle in the semi-finals on Saturday. Libero Stephanie Lojen led the charge defensively with 22 digs and was crucial in holding OUA Player of the Year Charlotte Sider to only 13 kills on 49 attempts. 

Montreal got 11 kills in only 15 points in fifth, hitting a scorching .579 and committing no errors to take the match, and the medal, 15-10. 

Marie-Alex Bélanger was named to the Tournament All-Star, as was Toronto’s Jen Neilson.