KINGSTON, Ont. (ISN) – The third-seeded Laval Rouge et Or and top-seeded Trinity Western Spartans both advanced to the gold-medal final at the CIS men’s volleyball championships Saturday.
The third-seeded Laval Rouge et Or advanced thanks to a 15-25, 30-28, 25-22, 25-17 semifinal victory over the No. 2 Manitoba Bisons at Queen’s University’s ARC, Saturday evening.
The RSEQ champions, who return to the title match for the first time since a straight-set loss to Alberta in 2009, hope to put an end to a 17-year domination by Western schools in CIS men’s volleyball. The Rouge et Or were the last team from outside the Canada West conference to win the Tantramar Trophy back in 1994, when they claimed a third banner in five seasons – and the third in program history.
With the win, Laval improved to 26-3 overall this season against CIS opponents. All three losses came at the hands of Manitoba in the pre-season, when the Bisons travelled to Quebec and prevailed 3-2 in Trois-Rivières (Oct. 13) and 3-1 and 3-2 in Quebec City (Oct. 14-15).
Tommy Bélisle, the RSEQ rookie of the year from Pierreville, Que., paced the Rouge et Or on Saturday with 18 kills, three blocks and eight digs. He was named game MVP for the winners. Manitoba was led by middle hitter Carson Kauenhowen of Winnipeg, who finished with eight kills, seven blocks and a service ace.
The top-seeded Trinity Western Spartans earned the chance to defend their national title on Sunday thanks to a straight-set win over the tournament host Queen’s Gaels in the second semifinal in front of 1,994 fans at the ARC.
Sunday at 4 p.m. Eastern, the Spartans will make their third consecutive appearance in the gold-medal final and their fifth overall since joining CIS in 1999-2000. The powerhouse from Langley, B.C., captured the Tantramar Trophy a year ago with a 3-0 win over Brandon and in 2006 with a straight set victory against Alberta, and settled for silver in 2010 and 2005.
In order to claim a second straight banner tomorrow, the Canada West champions will have to defeat the No. 3 Laval Rouge et Or, who downed Manitoba 3-1 in the early semi. Trinity Western sports a 2-0 all-time record against Laval at the CIS tournament, including a 3-2 semifinal win in 2010 and a 3-1 quarter-final victory in 2004.
Trinity Western also hopes to extend the remarkable streak of 17 straight national titles won by Canada West schools since Laval captured its third and last Tantramar Trophy in 1994.
For their part, the Gaels will try to please their home crowd by winning a first-ever CIS medal. Queen’s faces Manitoba for bronze at 1 p.m. Sunday.
The Spartans were led by third-year hitter Steven Marshall of Abbotsford, B.C., who had a game-high 14 kills to lead all players on just 23 attacks. He also chipped in with four digs and four blocks on defence.
For Queen’s, OUA player of the year Joren Zeeman of Cambridge, Ont., was named player of the game for Queen’s with a 10 kill, eight dig performance.