CIS: Golden Bears Repeat with Sweep

CIS: Golden Bears Repeat with Sweep

The 2014-15 Men’s Volleyball season is in the books. The Alberta Golden Bears successfully defended the CIS Championship for a second year. This tournament saw several great moments that included upsets, surprises and dominance all captured by the great webcast at the University of Saskatchewan. Their event crew did a great job highlighted by the commentators who kept the audience engaged with their witty lines. It was a pleasure to watch. 

 Ryley Barnes was named Championship MVP for the Golden Bears  Photo: Alberta Golden Bears   

Ryley Barnes was named Championship MVP for the Golden Bears  Photo: Alberta Golden Bears

 

Alberta and Trinity Western faced off in the final, a rematch of the Canada West final this year. While I’m sure some fans were hoping for a tighter match, I enjoyed watching how dominate the Golden Bears can be. When you think about how good the Trinity Western team is, it is impressive that the Bears were able to beat them 25-19, 25-17, 25-15. Brett Walsh was named Tournament MVP.  Superstar Ryley Barnes was named a Tournament All Star as was Taylor Arnett who was awarded for his surprise performance at the tournament. Alberta finished the event without dropping a set to OUA Silver Medalist Waterloo Warriors, AUS Champions Dalhousie Tigers and Canada West Rival Trinity. Alberta’s roster will obviously have some changes for next year, however volleyball fans should be excited knowing that all seven starters are back next year in search of a 3-peat championship run. They have earned the right to be early favourites for next year. It will be great to see every team give them their best throughout the entire season. The Golden Bears will have to earn it as every team will get up to play against them. A challenge the Golden Bears will be ready for and I’m sure look forward too.

 Trinity Western's Nick Del Bianco capped off his CIS career with a silver medal and a nod to the Tournament All-Star nomination  Photo: Trinity Western

Trinity Western's Nick Del Bianco capped off his CIS career with a silver medal and a nod to the Tournament All-Star nomination  Photo: Trinity Western

Player of the Year Nick Del Bianco was able to cap off his career with a CIS Silver medal. It was great to see him finish off his career on a high note after he was able to win a CIS Gold in first year then suffer a few early exits from the tournament. Time will tell is Nick chooses to pursue indoor at the next level or if he wants to return to the beach where he has already had international success. A great opportunity lies ahead for next year’s Spartans to see if they can continue what Nick and so many other great players have started. The Spartans have made 6 straight CIS appearances and 10 out of the last 12 years. This is a team that knows how to win and get athletes to the next level. They will need several players to step up and fill in the gaps that their senior class leaves.  

The McMaster Marauders bounced back from their semi final loss to defeat the Dalhousie Tigers. The win earns the OUA another bid for the 2016 Championships that McMaster will host. Home court advantage could be what pushes the Marauders over the top to claim their CIS Gold. Danny Demyanenko will be entering his 4th year with the Marauders. His CIS career includes a silver medal and 2 bronzes. Danny will be surrounded by other great players Stephen Maar, Brandon Koppers, and Andrew Richards. Mac graduates setter Austin Campion Smith and Jori Mantha. The early favourites to take those spots will be Jayson McCarthy and Andrew Kocur. Ontario fans will know Demyanenko, Maar, McCarthy and Kocur from the golden years of Crush Volleyball Club. The majority of Mac’s roster has been battled tested at the CIS level. Next year could be the year they level up and capture the first gold medal for the OUA in over 20 years. 

Dalhousie is back on track after a speed bumps in 2013 and 2011. The Tigers will have to step up in the absence of MVP Bryan Duquette who graduates after 5 years with Dalhousie. Hopefully the young tigers learned a lot during the CIS experience. The Tigers had a target on their back with the number two seed. They battled hard in their first round match up to beat York in 5. The Tigers gave Alberta everything they could handle in their semi final before losing 3-0. The Tigers came out firing in the first set to the McMaster Marauders in the bronze medal match but couldn’t hold that level of performance falling 3-0. It is difficult to prepare for matches at this level. Video can only show much until you are actually looking through the net versus the best. The Tigers can learn a lot from this event and use it to improve on their 4th place finish next year. 

Saskatchewan silenced the critics with their play in this event. It was hard to predict if their lay off would be used as rest or create rust. After a 3-0 loss to McMaster to open the event the Huskies showed why they were awarded the opportunity to host the finals as they beat RSEQ Champions Laval in the consolation semi and then York in the consolation final to capture a 5th place finish. It is so hard to earn a spot to play at the CIS Championships, it is always great to see the host show that they deserve to be there. It is not the outcome they were looking for buy Sask should be happy with how they competed and the send off they gave their seniors. 

Both York and Waterloo learned a lot about being at this level again. Neither roster had a player on it that had played at a CIS National Champion before. With McMaster hosting next year and winning a bronze medal this year Ontario will have 2 bids up for grabs next year. It will be wide open in Ontario to see who earns those spots but both of these teams have a head start in believing it should be them. York loses 3 veterans including super star Ray Szeto. However they return 4 of their starters this year that got a taste of what the CIS best have to offer. Early predictions say Waterloo will start 5 - 3rd year players next year. Although they didn’t have as good of a showing as York did this year Waterloo is at a good place in their cycle to return to Nationals next year. It is to soon to say these are the 3 teams that will be back next year, the OUA is wide open and I look forward to seeing what happens next season. 

 Laval's Vicente Villaibos is giving Rouge or Or fans reasons to look forward to next year  Photo: La Presse

Laval's Vicente Villaibos is giving Rouge or Or fans reasons to look forward to next year  Photo: La Presse

If Laval wins the RSEQ next year it will mark the 19th time they have played in the CIS Championships. They are the only non Canada West team to raise the Tantramar Trophy in the last 20 years. For this reason you can’t ever count out the Rouge et Or. I expected Bruno Lortie and Vicente P. Villaiobos to lead the way this year. With another full RSEQ season under their belts next year they will once again lead the team into battle.  

CIS fans won’t have to wait until next fall to see the top players in action. Team Canada has a busy summer planned. Keep an eye on many top players to make the Indoor Junior National Team. Team Canada Beach has a CIS and CCAA Selection camp coming up this month in Toronto. It was an exciting year of CIS Volleyball this year. Several exciting story lines already have me excited for next fall. 

CIS: Spartans Golden for First Time

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.


CIS: Alberta and Trinity to Play for Men's Gold

CIS: Alberta and Trinity to Play for Men's Gold

After six months of competition, it finally comes down to this: the CIS Final. Three matches today to determine the top 5 teams in the country. Here's what in store for you today! 

York  vs Saskatchewan

 2:00pm CST 

Both teams showed their toughness as they were able to bounce back after disappointing losses on day 1. York gave Dalhousie everything they could handle in a 5 set thriller to open the tournament. The Lions didn’t show any signs of the poor me’s on day 2 as they went the distance once again in another 5 set marathon versus provincial rival Waterloo. Ray Szeto came to play vs the Warriors with a 28 point performance. His 26 kills added to his tournament leading 46 kills. He is averaging a CIS leading 4.6 kills per set and is only behind Alberta’s Ryley Barnes with 4.9 points per set. York received a boost from their middles this match with Alexander Duncan Thibault hitting 400% with 6 kills and 8.5 points. Arthur Swarcz received player of the game honours for York with his 18 points. The first year middle was unstoppable at times with 15 kills on 27 errors with 1 error.  Rookie setter Logan Mend stepped in to help close out the victory over Waterloo. Hopefully Nicola Sandic will return to action today. 

Middle Robert Graham provided the spark the Huskies needed on day 2. Graham scored 6 points for Saskatchewan on Thursday night vs McMaster. He more than doubled his output and took over vs Laval yesterday afternoon. Graham earned player of the game scoring 15 points, that included an impressive 11 kills on only 13 attempts. Jordan Nowakowski continued his strong play with 19.5 points in the 3-1 victory over Laval. Sask was able to control the net earning 16 points off blocks. They also added 6 service aces vs the Rouge et Or. Vicent P Villaiobos bounced back after a rough opener vs Trinity with 19 points. Saskatchewan had an answer for every other Laval attacker as they held them to a 149 hitting %. 

This 5th place consolation final offers some interesting match ups. York has played a lot of sets going into today’s game. York will need to start fast in hopes of ending it early. Szeto is leading the tournament with 95 attempts over the two matches. York will need everything he’s got to capture the 5th place finish. Sask will once again look to Nowakowski to receive the most volume against the Lions. Surrounding casts will be the difference maker. Tyler Epp and Robert Graham will need to match the play of Josh Henderson and Arthur Swarcz.     

McMaster vs. Dalhousie

 4:00pm CST

Not exactly the one versus two seed match up these teams had in mind when the rankings were announced Monday. It is never easy to bounce back for a bronze medal match after a heart breaking semi. McMaster was able to pull it off last year and earn the extra bid for their conference last year. It’s anyone’s guess on who will lead their team today as both teams hope to send their seniors off with a CIS Medal.

Dalhousie has shown why they controlled the AUS conference entering the CIS Tournament with a 16-1 record. This team is well coached and prepared for most situations. They closed out their quarter final against York after leading 2-0, they took control late in the 5th set. Yesterday in the semi finals the Tigers had a plan that looked to be working early versus the Alberta Golden Bears. Dal lead at 20 before the defending champions showed their experience to close it out 25-22. The second set was much of the same as the Tigers keep hanging around up until 19-18 before the Bears once again closed it out with experience a serving run by Michael Goertz. In the third and final set Dalhousie pushed it to 18-18 before a late push sealed their fate at 25-19 for Alberta. Bryan Duquette lead the Tigers with 12.5 points. He struggled at times with 12 kills and 8 errors. Setter Jonathan Macdonald kept the Tigers in it with 30 and 3 well timed dumps for kills. Macdonalds performance was good enough to earn him player of the match. The Dalhousie middles were surprising efficient considering Alberta has two of the best middles in the event. Dal will need similar production from Maessen and Donovan because McMaster likes to run their offence through the middle.  

The McMaster vs Trinity Western didn’t disappoint as many thought it would be the best match of the tournament. Both teams showed relentless effort with three out of the four sets went into extra points.  Mac had a great plan going in that slowed down the high powered offence of the Spartans. Tough to say what the difference was as it felt like it could go either way. Trinity did a great job of always adjusting to the McMaster side. This was spotlighted as they finally had an answer for Danny Demyanenko with 2 blocks after 20 in the forth and final set. Fellow middle Alex Elliott provided a spark for the Marauders with 15 points. Up from his 6 the night before against Saskatchewan. McMaster has a lot of depth up and down their roster. They have a few options with their line up to spark a rebound game tomorrow versus the Tigers. Expect them to be ready to battle after a tough let down in their semi final. 

Dalhousie attended the Alden Cup that McMaster hosted in St. Petersburgh, Flordia over the January break. Although they didn’t play against each other it’s a safe bet that both coaching staffs were paying attention to the other. Both teams have been ready with well thought out game plans for this tournament. This bronze medal match won’t be any different as both teams look for an advantage versus fellow conference champion. 

Alberta vs Trinity Western

7:00pm CST

Trinity Western coach Ben Josephson didn’t hide the secret to their game plan against Alberta today. They are going to go serve the ball as hard as they can. The Spartans will have to take a few chances to hope to beat the favoured Golden Bears. The Spartans currently lead the CIS Championship with 13 service aces. Alberta is leading the tournament with points earned per set. They have so many ways to produce points from their high powered offence to their great blocking scheme. 

Brett Walsh is showing why he is considered the best setter in the CIS. It will be interesting to see what match ups he looks to exploit against the Spartans. Alberta has so many weapons to choose from. Alberta’s middle have to be considered the best in the tournament. John Goranson is up to his usual standard of play and Taylor Arnett is having a breakout tournament for the Golden Bears. At crunch time the Bears can look to their middles or rely on right side Kevin Proudfoot or superstar Ryley Barnes. With so many weapons to choose from, Spartan coach Ben Josephson wasn’t going out on a limb when he said they will need to serve tough to compete in this final. 

Trinity has looked tough all tournament. They have seen early exits from the medal round in years past thanks to back to back years versus the Western Mustangs. This year the Spartans have found their stride beating Laval in the quarter finals and beating a very tough McMaster team in the semi final. The Spartans may not look as good on paper as their rival the Alberta Golden Bears but they have several weapons of their own. After a tough Canada West final loss to the Bears the Spartans must be thankful for another chance at the defending champions. As much as we may want to believe the Spartans are the underdog with the 5th seed going into this match, it really is to close to call. Alberta defeated Trinity 3-1 at Canada West with set scores 26-24, 25-20, 25-27, 25-20. The Spartans will have a plan in place that will focus on their serving game. During the Can West final Nick Del Bianco was able to dial it up for 4 services aces against the bears. If his Trinity teammates can join him with some bombs from the baseline they will give Alberta their first set loss of the tournament. The Spartans did a great job adjusting to their opponent in their first two matches of the CIS Finals. Obviously the situation is a little different as they will play the Golden Bears for a fourth time today. These two teams know each other very well and it is anyone’s guess who will take it. 

If you are in Saskatoon be sure to get tickets and watch the final day live at the University of Saskatchewan. For the rest of us be sure to catch all of the action from the CIS Live Stream. The commentators have done a great job all tournament and will keep you laughing with some great one liners. 

CIS: 2015 Men's Championships Day 1 Recap

CIS: 2015 Men's Championships Day 1 Recap

The opening day is in the books at the 2015 CIS Men’s Volleyball Championships in Saskatoon. The Dalhousie vs York quarter final didn’t disappoint as many expected a great match from start to finish. Trinity Western showed that they have regained focus after a Canada West finals loss less than a week ago. Favoured teams Alberta and McMaster were very solid in their openers. Day two’s schedule will deliver more excitement as we will see who will play for the National Championship Saturday. 

Waterloo - OUA Silver Medalist (6) vs York - OUA Bronze Medalist  (7) - 1:00pm CST

Friday’s Consolation semi final will be the 4th time these teams have met this season. They traded regular season wins by defeating each other on the road. Their 3rd meeting was an OUA Final 4 semi final where Waterloo was able to slow down CIS Rookie of the Year Josh Henderson to win 3-1. 

York showed a lot of grit against Dalhousie in the opening quarter final of the tournament. The Lions trailed 2-0 in the match and looked to be down and out when Dal lead 23-19. Josh Henderson lead a service run that included a kill by middle Alexander Duncan Thibault, who also forced a hitting error from Tigers middle Matthew Donovan. Henderson would also get an ace before ending the 4 serve run with an error. York would get two kills down the stretch from superstar Ray Szeto before closing out the set on a Dalhousie hitting error. York carried that momentum into the 4th set and controlled the whole way winning 25-16 to force a 5th set. The 5th set was back and forth the entire way until a York hitting error put Dalhousie up 14-13 then an Alex Dempsey kill clinched a birth in the semi’s for Dal.  Ray Szeto was steady once again for the Lions leading the way with 21 total points and 10 digs. Alex Duncan Thibault had an impressive .545 hitting percentage with 7 kills, 4 block assists for 9 points. Josh Henderson went 12 for 25 with 6 errors. Not a bad game, but off the pace of his usual production. 

Waterloo’s quarter final had a much different flow to it. The Warriors faced defending champions Alberta in their match. Middle Taylor Arnett sparked a 7 point serving run to put the Golden Bears up 10-3 early on. Alberta controlled the entire first set winning 25-14. The Bears didn’t let up in the second set. They put together several runs of 2-3 points on defence to control the set 25-12. The Warriors settled in during the third set and a late run where thy would close a 5 points gap. Alberta remained steady and finished the match with a 25-22 win. Waterloo was lead by Aaron Wiersma with 6 kills and 7.5 points. Unfortunately his .188 hitting percentage lead all starters for the Warriors.  

Now that the first round nerves are over it will be interesting to see which team can bounce back. Playing against a provincial rival should help each team snap back. During the OUA Semi Final York played with a lot of emotion that affected their play both positively and negatively. If they can find the right balance they are a tough team to match up with. Waterloo will need to be steady on serve receive and remain in system to advance to the consolation final. 

Laval - RSEQ Champion (4) vs Saskatchewan - Host (8) - 3:00pm CST

Laval struggled to settle in early versus Trinity Western in the quarters. The Spartans quickly lead 8-2. That quick start fuelled them to a 3-0 victory over the Rouge et Or 25-14, 25-14, 25-19. Laval struggled from the serving line missing 10 serves. Trinity was firing on all cylinders on offence. The Spartans hit .431 with 35 kills on 65 attempts. Laval’s offence couldn’t match as they hit 0.83%. Laval’s offence usually goes through Bruno Lortie and Vicente P. Villaiobos. Both outside hitters finished in the negative. Olivier Jannini lead the way for Laval with 9.5 points. If he can remain steady while his teammates regain their form Laval could finish with another top 5 performance to add to their storied history. 

Saskatchewan gave everything they had against the number one seed McMaster Marauders. The Huskies pushed an exciting first set to 24 all before OUA Player of the Year Danny Demyanenko finished off the set with two straight kills. Sask answered the bell one more time when they tied the 2nd set at 17 all. McMaster once again closed it out this time by some strong serving from Stephen Maar. McMaster’s intensity was to much to handle as they closed out the match in 3 sets with a 25-18 3rd set win. Tyler Epp lead the way with 10.5 points. The Huskies remained balanced on offence as Jordan Nowakowski and Paul Thomson added 9.5 and 9 points respectfully. 

Laval’s keys to victory today will be forgetting yesterday’s match and getting back to what made them successful all season. The Rouge et Or will need everyone to be sharper if they hope to advance. Saskatchewan battled well for a team that was off for a few weeks. They’ll need to come out firing to get the home crowd involved early to push them past the RSEQ Champions. 

Dalhousie - AUS Champion  (2) vs Alberta - Can West Champion (3)

The seeding committee took a lot of heat this week when defending National Champions the Alberta Golden Bears were ranked 3rd. Some questioned why the defending champions who won their division with 5 returning starters were not ranked 1 or 2 going in. Perhaps it was all a master plan to create some controversy heading into the event when the powers that be knew they’d have to play it out in their semi final anyways. 

Dalhousie earned their trip to the medal round with a 3-2 victory over the Lions. As mentioned they looked in control leading 2-0 and up 23-19 before the wheels fell off. Early predications said that MVP Bryan Duquette and AUS All-Star Kristen O’Brian would need to be on their game for the Tigers to advance. They certainly were as Bryan had 16 points and Kristen had 18.5 but it was the play of Alex Dempsey that pushed Dalhousie into the semis. Alex was clutch earning 2 kills after the 10 point mark in the fifth set for the Tigers. He would finish the game with 14 kills. If the Tigers are going to beat the defending champions they will need more production out of their middles. Matthew Donovan and Connor Maesson only had 21 total attempts out of Dalhousie’s 130.  

Alberta’s returning starters didn’t disappoint in their opening round match up. Goranson, Proudfoot, and Barnes all hit over 300% and were steady in the Golden Bears 3-0 win over Waterloo. The play of 3rd year Taylor Arnett should have Alberta fans excited. Arnett went 7 for 10 on offence, add in a serving ace, 2 digs and 5 block assists for 10.5 points in his first CIS Quarter Final start. It was Taylor’s serving run in the first set that allowed Alberta to pull away early. It doesn’t look like Alberta will be touched if Taylor can continue that production with the other pieces producing at their high level that we are all used to. 

McMaster - OUA Champions (1) vs Trinity Western - Can West Silver Medalist  (5) - 8:00pm CST

This semi-final has the potential of being the match of the tournament. There is no question that the Canada West conference has controlled this event for the last 20 years. Only Laval from the RSEQ has won a gold medal outside of Can West in the last 20 seasons. The OUA has been coming on strong thanks in large part to the McMaster program. They have medalled twice in the last two years. If they are going to capture the gold medal for the OUA they will have to earn it by going through Trinity Western. 

Trinity Western was very aggressive from the service line in the opener. They put Laval in a lot of trouble with 6 aces and a lot of runs. Their serving game set the table for 16 digs and 17 block assists. It’s no secret that the Trinity offence goes through CIS Player of the Year Nick Del Bianco. The 5th year outside hitter received the ultimate compliment from his coach Ben Josephson who said he is one of the most complete players that the program has ever produced. High praise considering Trinity Western has been a pipeline to the National Team over the last 10 years. Del Bianco will be joined on offence by left side Ryan Sclater who added 13.5 points in the opening round victory. Black Scheerhoorn was effective with his 7 kills on 14 attempts. He will need to be on his game again in the semis as he is across the net from athletes he grew up playing against at OVA competitions as well as Junior National Teammates Brandon Koppers and Andrew Richards. The Spartans key to victory against McMaster will be their strong serving game that compliments their blocking game plan. If they can take away the middle from Mac they have a shot at upsetting the number one seed. 

McMaster’s vets have been building towards this moment their whole career. Alex Campion - Smith and Jori Mantha were members of the 2011 team that finished 5th at Nationals. That same year Trinity won their first of back to back championships. Nick Del Bianco was a rookie on that team and saw limited court time. The vets of Mac continued to built the program into the a National Contender. They captured silver in 2013 and bronze last year in Calgary. Austin showed his veteran presence in the quarter final with 38 assists. Mac’s offence always had 4 attackers going at Sask’s 3 blockers. The Marauders hit over 400% as a team. Second year left side Brandon Koppers wasn’t as sharp as he would have liked but rookie Andrew Richards was able to pick up the slack and go 3 for 3 in the one set of action he saw. Danny Demyanenko showed why there may not be another middle in the country that can handle him. Danny went 11 for 18 and had 16 points. Jori Mantha added 12.5 points on the right side for the Marauders. McMaster will need to pass well to stay in system versus The Spartans. Libero Pawel Jedrzejewski will need to be solid for the McMaster offence to go through Danny. 

Trinity Western will have to slow Danny down, if that’s even possible for the Spartans to return to their first final since they last won in 2012.  On the flip side if Mac can slow down Del Bianco they will prove this team deserved the number one seed and that they are ready to capture CIS Gold.  

CIS: Women's Championship Preview

CIS: Women's Championship Preview

Everything is ready to go for the 2015 CIS Championships, but first, here's a little preview of what you can expect this weekend! 

No. 4 Montreal vs. No. 5 UBC - 1:00 p.m. EST

This classic east vs. west battle will get the tournament started right on Thursday afternoon. The RSEQ Champions will be hungry to prove what they can do against the UBC Thunderbirds who have been in the past seven National finals, winning six-straight until falling to Manitoba last year. For Montreal, this is their 9th trip to the tournament in the past 10 years- missing out last year after being upset by Laval in the RSEQ finals. 

 UBC's Lisa Barclay will look to close out her illustrious CIS career with her fourth CIS gold in five years.  PhotoL The Ubyssey

UBC's Lisa Barclay will look to close out her illustrious CIS career with her fourth CIS gold in five years.  PhotoL The Ubyssey

Montreal is led by a trio of outsides: Marie-Alex Bélanger, Marie-Sophie Nadeau and Vicky Savard. All three can be lethal and give setter Katia Forcier plenty of opportunities to spread the offence. Montreal has consistently been one of the top serving teams in the country and this year is no different, finishing eighth in the CIS with 168 aces as a team. Led by Forcier, Montreal's serving will need to be the toughest it's been all season if their going to push the perennial powerhouse.

On the Thunderbird side, whenever you've got 5th-year Lisa Barclay in the line-up, you've got a shot. The Thunderbirds bounced back from a tough loss to Alberta in the Canada West semi-final to overcome UBCO, and still have their eye on the prize. In addition to Barclay, CanWest second-team all-star Danielle Brisebois will get a boost by playing in front of family and friends in her home province. Rosie Schlagintweit will be tough to slow down on the right side as well. She led the T-Birds with 737 attempts this season, making good on 313 on those. 

No. 1 Trinity Western vs. No. 8 Laval - 3:00 p.m. EST

After a disappointing loss to Dalhousie in last year's quarterfinals, the Trinity Western Spartans are here to prove they can win a CIS title. They've already proved they can win, by capturing their first Canada West banner last weekend, but this one is for all the marbles. First opponent on the path to the final is last year's bronze medalists- the Laval Rouge et Or. 

 Alicia Perrin will be looking to end her career with a CIS gold medal around her neck  Photo: Trinity Western Spartans

Alicia Perrin will be looking to end her career with a CIS gold medal around her neck  Photo: Trinity Western Spartans

The Rouge et Or and led by a veteran core including outstanding outside-hitters Valérie Lemay (4th year) and Esther Gilbert (5th year). Having middle-blocker Alyssa Fields-Bouchard carry a bulk of the load as well gives setter Émilie Ducharme plenty of options to be creative with. Laval averaged just over 14 digs a set throughout the regular season, and will have to come up big defensively if they want to medal for a second-straight year.

Canada West champions are ready to prove to the country what they can do, no more so than standout middle-blocker Alicia Perrin. Arguably the most physical presence in the CIS, Perrin knows how to get it done at the net. Her 234 kills and .328 hitting-percentage make most defences and her CIS-leading 135 blocks on the season is a nightmare for hitters. Worse is the Spartans have other weapons as well, like third-year Sophie Carpentier who led Trinity with 285 kills on the season and averaged four points a set. With ball control being an issue now and again, the Spartans will look to the Moncks sisters to calm things down. Both in their fifth-year, Kristen will take care of the first contact wearing the different jersey while Lauren will run the offence. 

No. 3 Toronto vs. No. 6 Dalhousie - 6:00 p.m. EST

A brand-new facility, CIS hosts and a roster packed with veteran talent, the stars seem to be aligning for the U of T Varsity Blues this year. After four excruciating years of should-haves and close calls, they've family made it, not only as the host, but the OUA Champions to boot. Things don't get any easier though, as they match-up with a Dalhousie team who fought tooth and nail to make it this far. 

On un-familiar territory and in front of a hostile crowd, the Tigers will have to figure out how to manufacture points against a Varsity Blues squad that finished second in the CIS for digs. This young squad will be led by AUS First Team All-star Anna Dunn Suen. Averaging just under three kills per set, she's going to have to find a way to score to give Dalhousie a chance. The veteran presence on the team could be the catalyst for something bigger. The only fifth-year on the team, Alexandra Hudson started her career as a Varsity Blue and was even beach partners with U of T's Charlotte Sider. What better way to go out than playing spoiler against your old team?

 U of T's Charlotte Sider will be playing her final matches in blue, and will be looking to go out with a bang  Photo: U of T Varsity Blues

U of T's Charlotte Sider will be playing her final matches in blue, and will be looking to go out with a bang  Photo: U of T Varsity Blues

The Varsity Blues have a bevy of talent and they know how to use it. OUA Player of the Year Charlotte Sider recorded her 1,000th kill in their win over Western and after four years of OUA disappointment, she's ready to perform on the next stage. Her beach-partner Denise Wooding brings a calming factor to the court, commanding the defence and serve receive, while middle blocker Bojana Radan brings a lot of energy and fire to the squad. Suiting up for one last crack is right side Jen Neilson, who can settle things down for the host when things get a little hectic. 

No. 2 Alberta vs. No. 7 Ottawa - 8:00 p.m. EST

One of the most intriguing match-ups of the CIS Championships, having the No. 2 seed doesn't mean an easier game for the Golden Pandas. The Ottawa Gee-Gees may have started the season slow, but with their only loss of 2015 coming to Toronto in the OUA Final, their peaking at the right moment. 

Ottawa is one of the best serve-block teams in the CIS, hands-down. A veteran team making their third consecutive appearance in the CIS, they have the size and the athleticism to break some brackets. With three players (Kelsie English, Alix Durivage, Kira Tome) in the Top Five in serving in this country, they will get you out of system in a hurry and have top-level talent to put the ball away when you give them a free-ball. The English twins are undoubtably leaders on the court, but Kaly Soro is a firecracker known the steal the show while averaging 3.1 points a set. 

 Mariah Walsh could lead the Pandas to another medal  Photo: Alberta Pandas

Mariah Walsh could lead the Pandas to another medal  Photo: Alberta Pandas

Holding the top spot in the country all year long, the Pandas slipped to number two after their loss to the Spartans, but are no less deadly.  Canada West First team all-star Meg Casault will lead the charge for the Pandas, something she's used to doing after scoring 316 times this season. Mariah Walsh is the key and runs a masterful offence from pretty much anywhere on the court. One Pandas looking to have a breakout tournament is rookie Josephine Doerfler, who comes all the way from Germany. Formerly of SC Potsdam of the Bundesliga, this 6'4 outside hitter knows how to put the ball away. 

CIS: Men's Championship Preview

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.

CIS: Championship Seeds Determined

CIS: Championship Seeds Determined

The seedings are up for the 2015 CIS men's and women's volleyball championships, and some of the decisions have left us scratching our heads. 

Women

  1. Trinity Western Spartans
  2. Alberta Pandas
  3. Toronto Varsity Blues
  4. Montreal Carabins
  5. UBC Thunderbirds
  6. Dalhousie Tigers
  7. Ottawa Gee-Gees
  8. Laval Rouge et Or 

Men

  1. McMaster Marauders
  2. Dalhousie Tigers
  3. Alberta Bears
  4. Laval Rouge et Or
  5. Trinity Western Spartans
  6. Waterloo Warriors
  7. York Lions
  8. Saskatchewan Huskies 
Barclay_vs_Spartans.jpg

We've added the seeding-criteria, which interestingly enough is not the same for both men and women. This is why we see Dalhousie seeded sixth in the women's draw even though they're the AUS Champions while Laval, who haven't been in the Top Ten since the season-opening rankings, are seeded at No. 4. 

It is a little more surprising to see the UBC Thunderbirds ranked above a conference champion. While they are the perennial powerhouse, the Thunderbirds did struggle this year with a 13-11 record, and were be no means a sure thing to make the tournament. Then again, swapping the T-Birds and the Tigers would result in a team that has been in seven-straight National finals pitted against the host, which is never a good idea. 

The biggest surprise of all was the Dalhousie Tigers as the second seed. Sure a 16-1 record is impressive, but does the AUS deserve a higher seed than the Canada West, especially the defending champs? One could argue that Alberta deserves the #1 spot, so the third-seed seems to be a stretch. 

The seeding makes little difference to the Golden Bears, who play one OUA team instead of another, but makes a much larger difference to the Waterloo Warriors. Having told us he expected to meet play Dalhousie in the first round, a meeting with the Canada West champions must come as a shock to Warriors Head Coach Chris Lawson. That's a serious difference in opponent. 

Anyone who follows the CIS in the slightest way will tell you Alberta should be ranked higher than Dalhousie. This is no slight to Dalhousie; Alberta's roster is deep and features some of the country's best players, guys who have lifted the Tantramar Trophy once already. 

One thing's for sure, after that opening serve, anything can (and will) happen, and watching it all go down is the best way to support your team. 

Brackets

As always, we are hosting a CIS Volleyball bracket challenge.  Check out the brackets below and fill out your prediction.

2015 CIS Men's Volleyball Championship

2015 CIS Women's Volleyball Championship

CIS: CanWest Women's Final Four

CIS: CanWest Women's Final Four

The last four teams alive in the Canada West have traveled to Edmonton where the Alberta Golden Pandas will be hosting the Final Four. 

The Canada West title is on the line, as well as three tickets to the CIS Final at the University of Toronto next weekend. Here's what's on tonight's schedule.

UBC Thunderbirds vs. Alberta Golden Pandas

6:00 p.m. MST

The #1 team in Canada hosts the defending Canada West champs in the opening match of the Final Four. The No. 10 Thunderbirds and No. 1 Pandas split their series in November, with both teams walking away with 3-2 wins. Canada West first team All-Star Meg Casault (Edmonton, AB) will lead the assault for the Golden Pandas while 2014 CIS Player of the Year Lisa Barclay (Brandon, MA) 

UBCO Heat vs. Trinity Western Spartans

7:30 p.m. MST

We've got a Battle of B.C. in the second semi-final when the No. 2 Heat and No. 4 Spartans face-off for a spot in the finals. Neither team will be willing to give an inch, and why would they? With identical records and both teams splitting 3-2 wins, there's nothing to separate these two teams. Canada West first team All-Stars Katy Klomps (Surrey, BC) and Alicia Perrin (Creston, BC) will lead the Heat and the Spartans respectively for a chance at the title. 

CIS: Live Stream Schedule October 24th-26th

CIS: Live Stream Schedule October 24th-26th
 The Alberta Golden Pandas and Trinity Western Spartans both sit atop the Canada West at 3-1. They go toe-to-toe this weekend.  Photo: Trinity Western Spartans

The Alberta Golden Pandas and Trinity Western Spartans both sit atop the Canada West at 3-1. They go toe-to-toe this weekend.  Photo: Trinity Western Spartans

 

Finally, the time is here when all four CIS conferences are in full swing, and the action is plentiful. If you can't make it out to a match, don't miss a second by watching all your favourite teams right here! Here's a few matches we think you should watch. 

Trinity Western @ Alberta - Men & Women

For both the men and women, the Bears and Spartans are wrestling for dominance already early in this CIS season. For the men, both undefeated and setting up a re-match of last year's CanWest Final. Should be a classic like the rest of them. Check it out. 

Ryerson @ McMaster - Men - Friday

McMaster had a rocky start to their season last weekend going 1-1, while the Rams took care of Guelph easily. The Marauders will be looking to settle down at the top of the OUA, while Ryerson might have a serious bid to wreak some havoc. 

McMaster @ Ottawa - Women - Saturday

Ottawa started the year at No. 4 but saw that disappear quickly as they went 0-2 last weekend. In this re-match of last year's OUA Final, McMaster could put the Gee-Gees in a tight spot early.

 

Women

Friday October 24th

Saturday October 25th

Sunday October 26th, 2014

  • Dalhousie vs, Laval (@ Montreal) - 10:00 a.m. ET
  • Saint Mary's vs. McGill (@ Montreal) - 10:00 a.m. ET
  • Cape Breton @ Montreal - 12:00 p.m. ET
  • Acadia vs. Sherbrooke (@ Montreal) - 12:00 p.m. ET
  • Toronto @ Brock - 7:00 p.m. ET

 

CIS: Warriors Hire Eddy as WVB Head Coach

CIS: Warriors Hire Eddy as WVB Head Coach

Eddy was the ideal candidate after working as an assistant under interim head coach Luke Snider last season while building positive experiences with all members of the team.  He also led recruiting efforts for the upcoming season and assisted with opponent analysis and match planning.