PREVIEW 2014 CIS women’s volleyball championship, presented by SGI CANADA: UBC looking for record-breaking 7th straight banner

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OTTAWA (CIS) – The University of British ColumbiaThunderbirds, already the most decorated program in CISwomen’s volleyball history with 10 national titles to theircredit, hope to enter the record books once again this weekend asthe first team to win seven straight national banners in thesport.

The 2014 CIS championship, presented by SGI CANADA, runs fromFriday to Sunday at the University of Regina.

All 11 matches fromthe eight-team competition will be webcast live on www.CIS-SIC.tv, including thegold-medal final at 6 p.m. Central Time.

The Canada West champion T-Birds are once again the top seed forthe tournament – for the second straight season and thefourth time in five years. Also competing for CIS supremacy thisweek will be the No. 2 Manitoba Bisons (Canada West finalists), No.3 Trinity Western Spartans (Canada West bronze medallists), No. 4Laval Rouge et Or (RSEQ champs), No. 5 McMaster Marauders (OUAchamps), No. 6 Dalhousie Tigers (AUS champs), No. 7 Ottawa Gee-Gees(OUA finalists) and No. 8 Regina Cougars (hosts).

Friday’s quarter-finals will see Trinity Western andDalhousie battle in the 1 p.m. opener, followed by Manitoba vs.Ottawa at 3 p.m., UBC vs. host Regina at 6 p.m., and Laval vs.McMaster at 8 p.m.

The Thunderbirds secured their No. 1 status with a straight-setwin over Manitoba in last Saturday’s Canada West final.Should they triumph on Sunday, they would not only makewomen’s volleyball history, they would also equal the longeststreak in CIS annals in a team sport, matching Victoria’sseven consecutive men’s basketball titles from 1980 to1986.

Along with Manitoba, Trinity Western and Regina, UBC also hopesto resume the Canada West domination in women’s volleyball,as teams currently competing in the CWUAA (including schools fromthe now defunct Great Plains conference) have won 33 of the last 37national banners.

Despite the loss of key talent from last year’schampionship squad, including two-time CIS player of the yearShanice Marcelle, UBC is enjoying yet another spectacular season.The Vancouver powerhouse finished first in their ultra-competitiveconference with an 18-4 mark and shows a 24-5 overall recordagainst CIS rivals.

The undisputed leader of the 2013-14 T-Birds is fourth-yearoutside hitter Lisa Barclay, who recently earned her first CanadaWest player-of-the-year award and who was named MVP of the last twoCIS tourneys.

While they are overwhelming favourites on paper, the defendingchamps can’t take their first-round opponents lightly. Inaddition to having to deal with a raucous pro-Cougars crowd, theThunderbirds will face a team that beat them 3-2 in their own gymin pre-season action (Oct. 6) and took them to five sets again inone of two league contests in late November, in Regina.

Following a slow start to the regular season, the Cougars werestellar after the December break winning nine of their last 10league games. They were brought back to earth by Trinity Western inthe conference quarter-finals however, dropping back-to-back 3-0decisions.

“Our team is really looking forward to Nationals. All seasonlong we battled in a very tough and competitive conference and itwas arguably one of the most unpredictable and exciting seasons wehave had in CanWest,” says Doug Reimer, in his 17th campaignat the helm at UBC. “Hopefully we will play our bestvolleyball of the season against some of the top teams in thecountry. Our focus has never been to defend a title – it is alwaysabout playing each point, each set, each match to the best of ourability and that is the focus we will have this weekend inRegina.”

“We’ve got a great opportunity to perform in frontof what should be a fantastic home crowd and we’re lookingforward to the challenge,” says Regina’s MelanieSanford, whose troops return to the event for the first time sincea fifth-place finish in 2010. “Our team has workedexceptionally hard all season long knowing that we’d havethis opportunity at the end of the season and we’re lookingto continue the momentum we’ve built up over the second halfof the schedule.”

Second-ranked Manitoba is another top seed that can’tafford to overlook its quarter-final opponent. The Bisons lost 3-2to Ottawa in the nation’s capital in the pre-season, on Oct.17.

Both teams are coming off straight-set losses in theirconference finals against UBC and McMaster, respectively.

“We had a tremendous match against a very strong TrinityWestern squad in our Canada West semifinal and were able to win andsecure a berth to the CIS Nationals,” says long-time Manitobahead coach Ken Bentley, whose program could tie Winnipeg andAlberta for second place all-time with a seventh CIS banner, buthasn’t triumphed on the national stage since 2002.“Although we fell short in the conference final, we are veryexcited to get back and play at the CIS championship.”

“Our trip to Nationals last year gave us the experienceand composure to win the OUA semifinal last weekend, but with ourteam this year our best experience has been the last threeweeks,” says Ottawa bench boss Lionel Woods, who led his sideto fourth place at the 2013 CIS tournament. “We just played atop-five match against McMaster and our schedule at the end of theseason was very high level. It’s wide open this year, andwe’re just going to go in and do the same, go atit.”

Speaking of the OUA champion Marauders, the McMaster-Lavalquarter-final – Friday’s nightcap at 8 p.m. –will pit two programs at the opposite end of the spectrum when itcomes to CIS championship experience.

McMaster is about to make its third appearance at the tourney,following a sixth-place finish in 2008 and a tie for seventh twoyears ago.

Laval, on the other hand, captured the CIS crown in 2006 and ismaking its 32nd trip in 36 years to the competition. The Rouge etOr upset heavily-favoured Montreal in the best-of-three RSEQ final,erasing a two-sets-to-one deficit on the road in the third anddecisive contest.

“Our team goals were more within our own conference thisyear, so to make it to the national championship is somewhat of abonus,” says Olivier Caron, who is back on the Lavalsidelines this season after leading the team for one campaign backin 1998-99. “We hope to play three strong matches in Regina.We don’t know our first-round opponents very well butthey’ve earned the right to be there and we’ll have tobe ready.”

“It has been a long hard remarkable road with this younggroup of players. Regina and the CIS championship (inherently) hasalways been the goal. It may have been remote in the beginning butthis group has shaped its identity through the year and a littlebelief has gotten us a long way,” says McMaster head coachTim Louks. “This team is starting to show characteristicsdisplayed at the CIS level in women’s volleyball. We willbegin another test when we arrive in Regina to see how we fair aswe battle the best teams in the country. We will find out how farwe have come and how far we have to go to perform and performconsistently well on the national scene.”

Trinity Western and Dalhousie will kick off the CIS championshipfor the second straight year. Last winter, in the No. 4 vs. No. 5matchup, the Spartans prevailed in straight sets, 25-13, 25-18 and25-19.

Making its fourth straight appearance at the tourney, TWU hasclaimed CIS bronze in both 2011 and 2013 but is still looking forthat elusive first title. After dropping a 3-0 decision to Manitobain their Canada West semifinal last weekend, the Spartans reboundednicely against UBC Okanagan in the bronze-medal match, winning 3-1to qualify for Nationals.

Dalhousie, which won its lone CIS title back in 1982, has beendominant since the start of 2014, losing only one set en route to a9-0 mark, including a sweep of Saint Mary’s in the AUS final.However, the Tigers have struggled this season against opponentsfrom other conferences, going 2-6 in those contests.

“Since the start of August, we’ve been workingtowards this week,” says TWU coach Ryan Hofer.“We’ve been preparing for this weekend all year andhave been aiming to be at our best for these three days.We’re excited that we have a shot to be here and we’reaiming to as deep as we can in this tournament. We’ve put inthe time, the effort, the video work and the practice to get readyfor the national tournament and I believe we’ve positionedourselves to try to take a run at a championship.”

“Our team is very excited about the challenge andopportunity of the national championship,” saysDalhousie’s Rick Scott. “We understand that there areeight very good teams but we believe that our team is playingexcellent volleyball right now and have been really focused ongetting better each week. We believe that the experience of beingat the national championship last year will serve our team well andwe are looking forward to competing with the best teams in thecountry.”

NOTES: Winnipeg (1983-1988) and Alberta (1995-2000) have alsowon six straight CIS women’s volleyball titles… Inindividual sports, the longest CIS championship streaks in historyare held by UBC in women’s swimming (11), UBC in men’sswimming (10), Brock in men’s wrestling (10), Guelph inwomen’s cross country (9 and counting) and Guelph inmen’s cross country (8 and counting).

PARTICIPATINGTEAMS

No. 1 UBC Thunderbirds

Head coach: Doug Reimer (17th season)
Regular season record: 18-4
Regular season standing: 1st Canada West
Playoff record: 2-0
Playoff finish: Canada West champions
Overall record vs. CIS teams: 24-5
Top 10 final ranking (Feb. 11): No. 1
Top 10 best ranking: No. 1 (all 13 weeks)
Top 10 number of weeks ranked (13 polls): 13
Conference award winners: Lisa Barclay (MVP)
Conference 1st team all-stars: Lisa Barclay (OH), RosieSchlagintweit (OH)
Conference 2nd team all-stars: None
CIS championship best result: 10-time champions (2008 to 2013,1978, 1977, 1974, 1973)
CIS championship last appearance: 2013 (champions)
CIS championship sequence: 19th appearance in 20 years (missed2007)

No. 2 Manitoba Bisons

Head coach: Ken Bentley (28th season)
Regular season record: 14-8
Regular season standing: 4th Canada West
Playoff record: 3-1
Playoff finish: Canada West finalists
Overall record vs. CIS teams: 29-15
Top 10 final ranking (Feb. 11): No. 5
Top 10 best ranking: No. 4 (3 weeks)
Top 10 number of weeks ranked (13 polls): 13
Conference award winners: None
Conference 1st team all-stars: None
Conference 2nd team all-stars: Brittany Habing (S), Taylor Pischke(LS)
CIS championship best result: 6-time champions (2002, 2001, 1992,1991, 1990, 1971)
CIS championship last appearance: 2010 (finalists)
CIS championship sequence: Return after 3-year absence

No. 3 Trinity Western Spartans

Media Guide (PDF 6.5 MB)

Head coach: Ryan Hofer (9th season)
Regular season record: 17-5
Regular season standing: 3rd Canada West
Playoff record: 3-1
Playoff finish: Canada West bronze medallists
Overall record vs. CIS teams: 26-7
Top 10 final ranking (Feb. 11): No. 3
Top 10 best ranking: No. 2 (5 weeks)
Top 10 number of weeks ranked (13 polls): 13
Conference award winners: None
Conference 1st team all-stars: Sophie Carpentier (OH)
Conference 2nd team all-stars: Alicia Perrin (M)
CIS championship best result: Bronze (2013, 2011)
CIS championship last appearance: 2013 (bronze)
CIS championship sequence: 4th consecutive appearance

No. 4 Laval Rouge et Or

Head coach: Olivier Caron (2nd season: 1998-99 &2013-14)
Regular season record: 13-6
Regular season standing: 2nd RSEQ
Playoff record: 4-2
Playoff finish: RSEQ champions
Overall record vs. CIS teams: 19-9
Top 10 final ranking (Feb. 11): No. 9
Top 10 best ranking: No. 7 (2 weeks)
Top 10 number of weeks ranked (13 polls): 9
Conference award winners: None
Conference 1st team all-stars: Esther Gilbert (RS)
Conference 2nd team all-stars: Ève Thibault (OH), SophieDallaire (M)
CIS championship best result: 1-time champions (2006)
CIS championship last appearance: 2013 (6th place)
CIS championship sequence: 2nd consecutive appearance (32nd in 36years)

No. 5 McMaster Marauders

Head coach: Tim Louks (25th season)
Regular season record: 13-6
Regular season standing: 2nd OUA West
Playoff record: 3-0
Playoff finish: OUA champions
Overall record vs. CIS teams: 27-12
Top 10 final ranking (Feb. 11): Unranked
Top 10 best ranking: Unranked all season
Top 10 number of weeks ranked (13 polls): 0
Conference award winners (OUA West): Amanda Weldon (student-athlete& community service)
Conference 1st team all-stars (OUA West): Sophie Bukovec (OH)
Conference 2nd team all-stars (OUA West): Maicee Sorensen (M),Taylor Brisebois (M)
CIS championship best result: 6th place (2008)
CIS championship last appearance: 2012 (tied 7th place)
CIS championship sequence: 3rd appearance in team history (2014,2012, 2008)

No. 6 Dalhousie Tigers

Media Guide (PDF 1.5 MB)

Head coach: Rick Scott (6th season)
Regular season record: 12-4
Regular season standing: 1st AUS
Playoff record: 2-0
Playoff finish: AUS champions
Overall record vs. CIS teams: 18-7
Top 10 final ranking (Feb. 11): No. 8
Top 10 best ranking: No. 8 (1 week)
Top 10 number of weeks ranked (13 polls): 5
Conference award winners: Maggie Li (MVP)
Conference 1st team all-stars: Maggie Li (M), Desiree Nouwen(LS)
Conference 2nd team all-stars: Tara Gowan (RS)
CIS championship best result: 1-time champions (1982)
CIS championship last appearance: 2013 (tied 7th place)
CIS championship sequence: 2nd consecutive appearance

No. 7 Ottawa Gee-Gees

Media Guide (PDF 6.7 MB)

Head coach: Lionel Woods (22nd season)
Regular season record: 14-5
Regular season standing: 3rd OUA East
Playoff record: 2-1
Playoff finish: OUA finalists
Overall record vs. CIS teams: 25-7
Top 10 final ranking (Feb. 11): No. 10
Top 10 best ranking: No. 6 (1 week)
Top 10 number of weeks ranked (13 polls): 12
Conference award winners (OUA East): Myriam English (MVP)
Conference 1st team all-stars (OUA East): Myriam English (LS),Kelsie English (RS)
Conference 2nd team all-stars (OUA East): None
CIS championship best result: Finalists (1980)
CIS championship last appearance: 2013 (4th place)
CIS championship sequence: 2nd consecutive appearance

No. 8 Regina Cougars

Head coach: Melanie Sanford (12th season)
Regular season record: 12-10
Regular season standing: 6th Canada West
Playoff record: 0-2
Playoff finish: Canada West quarter-finalists
Overall record vs. CIS teams: 21-20
Top 10 final ranking (Feb. 11): Unranked
Top 10 best ranking: Unranked all season
Top 10 number of weeks ranked (13 polls): 0
Conference award winners: Leah Shevkenek (rookie)
Conference 1st team all-stars: Desiree Ates (OH)
Conference 2nd team all-stars: Michelle Sweeting (M)
CIS championship best result: 4th place (1990)
CIS championship last appearance: 2010 (5th place)
CIS championship sequence: Return after 3-year absence

CHAMPIONSHIPSCHEDULE (all times CENTRAL TIME)

Thursday, February 27
18:45 All-Canadian Awards Reception (Casino Regina ShowLounge)

Friday, February 28
13:00 Quarter-final #1: No. 3 Trinity Western vs. No. 6Dalhousie (www.CIS-SIC.tv)
15:00 Quarter-final #2: No. 2 Manitoba vs. No. 7 Ottawa (www.CIS-SIC.tv)
18:00 Quarter-final #3: No. 1 UBC vs. No. 8 Regina (www.CIS-SIC.tv)
20:00 Quarter-final #4: No. 4 Laval vs. No. 5 McMaster (www.CIS-SIC.tv)

Saturday, March 1
13:00 Consolation #1: Loser quarter-final #1 vs. Loserquarter-final #2 (www.CIS-SIC.tv)
15:00 Consolation #2: Loser quarter-final #3 vs. Loserquarter-final #4 (www.CIS-SIC.tv)
18:00 Semifinal #1: Winner quarter-final #1 vs. Winnerquarter-final #2 (www.CIS-SIC.tv)
20:00 Semifinal #2: Winner quarter-final #3 vs. Winnerquarter-final #4 (www.CIS-SIC.tv)

Sunday, March 2
13:00 5th place (www.CIS-SIC.tv)
15:00 Bronze medal (www.CIS-SIC.tv)
18:00 Championship final (www.CIS-SIC.tv)

About Canadian Interuniversity Sport

Canadian Interuniversity Sport is the national governing body ofuniversity sport in Canada. Every year, 11,000 student-athletes and700 coaches from 55 universities and four regional associations viefor 21 national championships in 12 different sports. CIS alsoprovides high performance international opportunities for Canadianstudent-athletes at Winter and Summer Universiades, as well asnumerous world university championships. For further information,visit www.cis-sic.ca or followus on:

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/CIS_SIC
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/cissports
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/universitysport

-CIS-

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