February 13, 2013, Saskatoon, SK (ISN) – For the first time since 2004-05, the University of Saskatchewan men’s volleyball team will host a Canada West playoff series.
The Brandon University Bobcats face the Huskies in a Canada West best-of-three quarter-final series Friday, Saturday and, if necessary, Sunday at the PAC. It is the first time in history the two conference foes have met in the post season.
The winner of the series will move on to the Canada West Final Four hosted by the University of Alberta Golden Bears February 22-23.
Saskatchewan won both regular season meetings between the two teams sweeping Brandon 3-1 (25-19, 25-17, 22-25, 25-23) and 3-0 (29-27, 25-13, 25-22) at the PAC on January 25-26.
Taking the Canada West by surprise in 2012-13, the No. 6 ranked Huskies made an impressive turnaround from one season ago. Saskatchewan finished 4-16 and in 10th spot in the standings in 2011-12. This season, the Huskies went 15-7, finishing in third after winning 12 of their last 14 matches.
The impressive turnaround was sparked by career seasons by Bryan Fraser, Paul Thomson, Chris Gilbert, Jeff Grant and Braden McLean. Outside hitters Fraser and Thomson have provided the bulk of Saskatchewan’s offence combining for 511 of the Huskies’ 1081 kills on the season. Fraser finished ninth in the Canada West averaging 3.43 kills per set. Fifth-year setter Gilbert finished the season ranked first in assists with 10.43 per set. As a team, the group finished third in hitting percentage at .258.
Brandon, after starting the season strong, won just four of their last 11 matches to close out the Canada West season at 13-9. Throughout 2012-13, Sam Tuivai, Roy Ching and Dan Boutwell led the Bobcats on offence. Tuivai finished the season with 339 kills and 38 blocks, leading the conference with 4.35 kills per set. Ching added another 210 and 55 blocks, while Boutwell had 174 kills and a team-high 83 blocks.
Match 1 and Match 2 are scheduled for 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, while Match 3, if needed, will be 7 p.m. Sunday. All matches can be seen on www.canadawest.tv