CIS women’s volleyball Saturday roundup: T-Birds take Canada West crown again

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Photo credit Bob Frid

QualifyingTeams 2014 CIS Women’s Volleyball Championship

Host University of Regina. February 28 – March2

– UBC Thunderbirds (Canada West Representative)
– Ottawa Gee-Gees (OUA Representative)
– McMaster Marauders (OUA Representative)
– Montreal Carabins or Laval Rouge et Or (RSEQ Representative)
– Dalhousie Tigers (Atlantic University Sport Representative)
– Regina Cougars (Host)

– Manitoba Bisons (Canada West assigned berth)
– Trinity Western (Canada West assigned berth)

McMaster 3 Toronto 1 Final BoxScore
OUA semi-final 1

Source: Toronto Sports Info

TORONTO – The host University of Toronto Varsity Blues women’svolleyball team fell 3-1 (33-35, 25-23, 15-25, 18-25) in OUAsemi-final action on Saturday afternoon at the Athletic CentreSports Gym.

With the loss, the Blues will take on the loser of theOttawa/Guelph semifinal for the OUA bronze medal tomorrow at 12p.m. The Marauders advance to the OUA final and book their ticketto the CIS national tournament next week, February 28 – March2, hosted by the University of Regina.

Fourth-year left side hitter Charlotte Sider of Ottawa ledthe Blues with 19 kills and eight digs, while Jennifer Neilson had12 kills, two aces and two blocks. Denise Wooding notched 10 digs,with Madelyn Mandryk adding 28 assists in the loss.

The Marauders got out to an early 4-1 lead, thanks tothree straight aces from Taylor Brisebois, but the Blues battledback to even the score at 8-8 and the two teams exchanged the leadfrom there. U of T took a narrow 16-14 lead into the technicaltimeout.

McMaster went on a 6-1 run out of the break, only to beanswered by a 3-0 streak by Toronto and the game was deadlocked at20. The Marauders surged ahead and looked to have the game out ofreach at 24-21, but the Blues responded and the two teams went backand forth until McMaster pulled away for the 35-33 win.

Tied 7-7 early in the second set, McMaster went on a 9-3streak to take a 16-10 advantage into the technical time out. TheBlues took over from there, ending the second on a 15-8 run,highlighted by three kills and a final ace from Sider to take it25-23.

To no surprise the third set started as a see-saw battle,until McMaster notched 10 consecutive points to take a 16-8 leadinto the technical timeout. The Marauders cruised to victory fromthere, taking a 2-1 match lead with the 25-15 victory.

The Marauders used their third-set momentum to build afive-point lead at the technical time out and despite a rallyeffort from Toronto, McMaster took the last set and match25-18.

Rookie standout Sophie Bukovec led all players with 30kills and 15 digs, while Joanna Jedrzejewska had 14 kills and 17digs on the day. Kayla Ng added 53 assists and 13 digs in thewin.

Ottawa 3 Guelph 2 Final
OUA semi-final 2

Source: Guelph Sports Info

Toronto – The Guelph Gryphons women’s volleyball teamdropped a back-and-forth 3-2 final to the Ottawa Gee-Gees in OUAsemi-final action on Saturday afternoon at the University ofToronto Athletics Centre Sports Gym. It was an epic battle withboth teams trading momentum throughout with the Gryphons ultimatelyfalling a few points short. Set scores were 27-25, 22-25, 21-25,26-24 and 15-12.

With the loss, the Gryphons will face the host Toronto VarsityBlues for the OUA bronze medal tomorrow at 12 p.m. In the firstsemi-final of the day the Varsity Blues dropped a 3-1 game to theMcMaster Marauders. Toronto, finished the regular season first inthe OUA East with a 13-6 record. In their regular seasonhead-to-head match Toronto defeated Guelph 3-1.

The Gee-Gee’s now advance to the OUA final against theMcMaster Marauders on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. With the semi-final winboth teams booked their ticket to the CIS national tournament nextweek, February 28-March 2 hosted by the University of Regina.

Ottawa jumped out to an early lead in set one and led throughthe middle of the game, but Guelph fought back to tie the set at20. The Gryphons scored the next two points to go ahead but Ottawatallied three consecutive points to seize back the lead. Fromthere, the teams traded points until Ottawa finally finished theset at 27-25.

In the second set, the teams took turns trading the lead earlybut Guelph forged ahead 16-12 at the technical timeout. Ottawaclosed to within a point a couple of times, but the Gryphonsfinished the set with a 25-22 win.

Set three started slowly for Guelph as they fell behind 6-3 butthey stayed close and led 16-14 at the timeout. A 5-3 run allowedthe Gryphons to lead 21-17 and again they maintained the lead towin 25-21.

The fourth set saw Guelph fall behind again and they trailedthrough most of the set but they caught the Gee-Gees at 22 all.They had a match point at 24-23 before a 3-point run allowed Ottawato survive at 26-24.

The fifth and deciding set saw Ottawa leading early with theGryphons again catching them at 11 all. Unfortunately, Ottawa useda 4-1 run to win the set and match 15-12.

Coach Funk stated, “I’m very proud of the way ourgirls fought today. Despite being the higher seed, we were theunderdogs in this match against a very experienced Ottawa squad andwe knew we would have to play very well to win. We did that but unfortunately, we were a few points short today. Now we have torecover for tomorrow’s bronze medal match against anothervery tough Toronto squad.”

Becky Breau led the Guelph offense with 23 points (21 kills, 2aces) followed by Rachel Petcoff with 18 (16 kills, 2 aces) whileKristen Almhjell led the defense with 25 digs.

Kaly Soro led the Gee-Gees with 20 kills and 16 digs, whileKelsie and Myriam English notched 14 kills apiece. Myriam, the OUAWest player of the year, also added a game-high five aces on theday. Kria Tome notched 51 assists and 11 digs, with StephanieTheiler recording 25 digs in the win.

UBC Okanagan 1 Trinity Western 3 Final BoxScore
Canada West bronze

Source: Cary Mellon, UBC Okanagan Sports InformationDirector

VANCOUVER, BC – Megan Festival (2nd year, Calgary, AB) andBrianna Beamish (3rd year, Surrey, BC) would team up for 26 killsin the Heat women’s volleyball bronze medal match versus TrinityWestern, but Sophie Carpentier’s 19 kills and 14 total blocks forthe Spartans saw Trinity earn the 3-1 (18-25, 25-16, 26-24, 25-14)victory Saturday evening to send the Spartans to the CIS NationalChampionship.

“It was really close, and we battled well,” explained Heat headcoach Steve Manuel following the bronze medal match. “We justcouldn’t keep up the consistency for long enough.”

The third set proved to be the deciding factor in the game forUBC Okanagan. A Beamish kill would give the Heat the 24-22 lead,but the defending CIS National Championship bronze medallists wouldfight off set point to tie the game at 24-24. Carpentier would giveTrinity the lead at 25-24, and Casie Gano would complete thecomeback with a kill of her own to win the set 26-24 for theSpartans.

“We did an awesome job responding in that third set after thesecond [set],” said Manuel. “Had it gone our way, it could havebeen an entirely different match.”

UBC Okanagan would continue to battle with Trinity in the fourthset, but sensing the victory was in hand, the veteran Spartanswould keep the pressure on the youthful Heat, playing their bestdefensive set of the match and holding the Heat to only eight killsto give Trinity Western the set victory 25-14.

“We just stopped executing what we had to do,” added Manuel. “Ithink it just came down to a little bit of inexperience andnerves.”

Megan Festival would finish the game with 15 kills and eightdigs, while Beamish had 11 kills for a Canada West Final Fourtournament total of 24. Lenai Schmidt (5th year, Vernon, BC),playing in the final game of her career, had 15 of the Heat’s 45total digs.

Behind Carpentier’s 19 kills, the Trinity Western offense wasrelatively non-existent, as the Heat did an excellent job offrustrating Alicia Perrin and Royal Richardson, who combined foronly six kills on 28 attempts.

“I have nothing to say other than that I am extremely proud ofthis team and how they played,” said Manuel. “We have had a 100%tougher schedule for the last two months than anyone in thecountry, and not just by a little but by a lot. It’s been acomplete and utter grind, and we just came out a little shorttonight. I have nothing but positive things to say tonight aboutthe team and their performance this season.”

The win will see Trinity Western advance to the CIS NationalChampionship, where the Spartans have won bronze two of the pastthree years. The loss will end what has been an outstanding seasonfor a UBC Okanagan team in just their third season in Canada West.Peaking at No. 3 in the nation on Jan 7, 2014, the Heat not onlymade the playoffs for the second year in three Canada West seasons,they also won their first playoff series in school history to maketheir first Canada West Final Four.

Although the loss will sting for some time, Manuel was quick toput things into perspective.

“We have done better in our first three years in the CIS thanany one in the history of the league,” Manuel explained. “We areextremely proud of what we’ve accomplished, and we can believe wecan do more and we will do more.”

Manuel continued, “I believe what we’ve done so far, I think,has been…spectacular…if I can say that word. From our fight,consistency, and how we’ve built this program in just a short timein this league.”

Thus concludes a tremendous season for the UBC Okanagan Heat,and Manuel is already looking forward to the next one.

“Look out everyone, we’re coming back strong next year.”

HEAT NOTES: Perspective on the Heat’s remarkable successin just three years in Canada West the UBC Okanagan Heat have wonover half of their conference games. Today’s opponent, theSpartans, joined Canada West in 1999 and they did not even theirrecord (as many wins as losses) until this season. It took Trinity15 years and nearly 300 conference matches to reach .500. They didso on Jan 11, 2014 when they defeated Mount Royal to total 149 winsand 149 losses. The Heat’s record in three years is 33-31,two games above the magical .500.

Manitoba 0 UBC 3 Final BoxScore
Canada West final

Source: Lee Dorner, UBC Sports Information Assistant

Vancouver – The UBC Thunderbirds scooped up their secondstraight Canada West title with a 3-0 win (25-20, 25-19, 25-22)over the Manitoba Bisons on Saturday night .

Both teams played championship-caliber volleyball in all threesets, but every time the Bisons crept up and looked like they wereabout to establish a lead, the T-Birds had the answer. UBC’s depthof talent was on full display, as the T-Birds used great teamdefence and a balanced attack to win their second straightconference gold, and their fifth in the last seven seasons.

“I was really pleased with our performance tonight. It was a greatteam effort against a talented Manitoba team,” said UBC head coachDoug Reimer. “Frankly, we had some late-season struggles, so for usto turn it around, win the match last night and play really well asa group today is encouraging going forward.”

After a scorching-hot Friday night performance from the Canada WestMVP, Lisa Barclay was held in check a little better by the Bisonson Saturday, but she still managed to lead the match with 13 kills.Just as important as those kills, however, was her passing and thegeneral floor space she opens up for teammates.

“I thought Lisa struggled a bit more offensively today, but we hadmuch better offensive balance,” Reimer said. “She opens up thingsjust with her presence on the court because other teams know whatshe can do, and I thought she passed the ball well today, so thereare other ways to make contributions, and she did that.”

UBC libero Briana Liau Kent was another star of Friday’s match,racking up digs like they were going out of style. She led thematch again with 12 digs Saturday, and was a consistent anchor forthe T-Birds all weekend.

“She was unreal yesterday, and steady again today and dug a lotof balls,” Reimer said. “It was a great weekend and I’m so pleasedwith her play.”

Rosie Schlagintweit had 11 kills on .360 hitting. Abbey Keepingadded nine and Juliana Kaufmanis had seven.

For the Bisons, Jordana Milne led the way offensively with eightkills. Rachel Cockrell had seven, and setter Brittany Habing wasarguably their most effective source of offence, with five kills insix attempts. She also had 23 assists.

In set on, the ‘Birds sided out at 71 per cent to prevent theBisons from getting any sustained momentum going. Middle blockerAbbey Keeping showed why she was one of the most efficientattackers in the conference, racking up five kills on five attacksto get UBC settled with a 1-0 lead.

UBC’s serving game was huge throughout the night, andparticularly in the first two sets. Kaufmanis and Mariah Bruinsmahad three aces each after two, and UBC had seven as a team comparedto three for Manitoba. Even when they weren’t recording aces, theT-Bird servers kept Manitoba’s offence out of sync just enough tohave the edge throughout the match.

The third set was the only time the Bisons had a significantlead, as they jumped out to a 7-2 advantage and led 9-4 before UBCturned the engines on. From there, the T-Birds surged ahead with a7-0 lead on Rosie Schlagintweit’s serve. The Bisons brieflyregained the lead 18-17, but T-Bird subs Danielle Brisebois andAlissa Coulter closed things out strong to secure the win forUBC.

This makes 16 straight regular season or playoff victories forUBC over Manitoba, dating back to November 9, 2007. UBC also toppedManitoba in the 2010 Canada West finals 3-2, and eventually metthem in the CIS finals that year as well, winning 3-1.

The T-Birds now look forward to next week in Regina, where theteam will look to win a CIS record seventh-straight women’svolleyball national title. This makes the fifth time UBC has wonthe conference title during that run.

“Part of you knows that for any team that qualifies, anythingcan happen, and you can win a national championship coming in fromall sorts of positions,” Reimer said. “I think our team will stayrespectful of that. But you have to play each match as it comes andwinning the Canada West championship is a goal every team has everyyear. It’s a real positive from where we were two weeks ago inAlberta and struggling, to get it done when we have to, it puts usin good position.”

UBC, Manitoba and Trinity Western all join host Regina at theeight-team CIS tournament next week. The tourney runs February28-March 2 in Regina.

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