By Daniel Herrick, Sports Information Assistant
January 16, 2014 (ISN) – The University of Saskatchewan volleyball teams both have their sights set on making a run to the playoffs starting with a matchup against provincial rival the University of Regina Cougars this weekend at the PAC.
Neither women’s team is ranked in the CIS top 10. Half of the top 10 is occupied with Canada West teams UBC (1), Brandon (2), UBCO (4), TWU (5) and Manitoba (8).
With a 7-7 record, the Huskies hold down a spot in the playoffs. Regina (5-9) is tied for ninth in the conference standings. The top seven teams qualify for playoffs.
The Huskie women sit second in the conference in service aces averaging 2.04 per set.
Regina’s Desiree Ates is fourth in Canada West kills averaging 3.84 per set.
Kayla Tycholiz is third in the Canada West and CIS in total blocks with 71.
The men’s squad enters the weekend ranked No. 8 and is joined by TWU (2), Alberta (3), TRU (4), UBC (5), Brandon (7) and Manitoba (9) as Canada West schools make up over half of the CIS Top 10 rankings.
Saskatchewan men are just one win out of a three-way tie for the seventh and final playoff spot.
The Huskie men are 18-2 against Regina since 2004-05.
Since 2004-05, Saskatchewan is 1-15 all-time against Regina in the regular season. The Huskies last beat the Cougars on November 10, 2006 in Regina.
UNIVERSITY OF REGINA COUGARS (5-9)
Facing a team they have had success against in recent years, the Cougars look to get back into the playoff mix against Saskatchewan.
After dropping three straight to ranked opponents Trinity Western and UBC, Regina swept the Alberta Pandas at home last weekend to keep pace in the Canada West playoff race. The Cougars sit one game out of seventh and two back of Saskatchewan entering the weekend.
Desiree Ates is the leading hitter for the Cougars and is fourth among the conference leaders with 3.84 kills per set. Ates’ 4.27 points per set average is fifth in the Canada West.
UNIVERSITY OF SASKATCHEWAN HUSKIES (7-7)
Saskatchewan looks to increase their two-match lead over the Regina Cougars and move closer to locking up a playoff spot with wins on home court this weekend.
Saskatchewan enters the weekend second in the conference in service aces with 102 led by Jina Barker (17) and Jenelle Sokoloski (17).
Kayla Tycholiz is third in the Canada West and CIS with 71 total blocks and is sixth among conference hitters at 0.304 percent. Barker is also averaging 8.38 assists per set. Fifth-year outside hitter Candace Hueser has averaged 2.59 kills per set to lead the Huskies.
Since 2004-05, Saskatchewan is 18-2 against the Cougars. The Huskies won both meetings in a home-and-away series last season.
UNIVERSITY OF REGINA COUGARS (0-14)
The winless Regina Cougars would like nothing more than to spoil their provincial foe Huskies’ run to a playoff spot with an upset on the road this weekend.
While the Cougars have only taken six sets from their opponents this season, Regina has the opportunity to surprise teams.
Andrew Nelson the 2011-12 CIS Rookie of the Year has been a bright spot for the Cougars with the conference’s fourth best kill average at 3.69 per set.
NO. 8 UNIVERSITY OF SASKATCHEWAN HUSKIES (5-9)
After splitting with the Winnipeg Wesmen on home court last weekend, the Huskies hope to get back in the playoff hunt against the last place Cougars at home this weekend.
The Huskies sit one game behind a three-way tie for third in the Canada West standings with four weeks to go. Saskatchewan trails Winnipeg, Manitoba and Mount Royal who all have a 6-8 record and Brandon (7-7) in a logjam for the final post season spot. A second half push is not foreign to the Huskies. In 2012-13 Saskatchewan rallied to win 12 of its final 14 games to secure a home playoff date.
The trio of Paul Thomson, Bryan Fraser and Jordan Nowakowski has powered the Huskie offense with 2.98, 2.68 and 2.60 kills per set respectively. Braden McLean has nearly twice as many blocks, 46, in the middle as any other Huskie, while Tyler Epp moves into second from fourth among Canada West hitting percentage leaders at .441 with 74 kills.