by Ben Matchett
February 27, 2014, CALGARY (ISN) – The defending CIS men’s volleyball champion Université Laval Rouge et Or is guaranteed to play for a medal once again after dispatching the Atlantic champion Dalhousie Tigers in straight sets (25-16, 25-18, 25-22) Thursday afternoon to open the 2014 CIS championship.
CHAMPIONSHIP WEBSITE: http://english.cis-sic.ca/championships/mvball/index
The RSEQ champions will face the Alberta Golden Bears in the first of two semi-final matches Friday night in the University of Calgary’s Jack Simpson Gym, with first serve set for 6 p.m. MT. It will be a rematch of the quarterfinal round in 2013, when Laval knocked off the Golden Bears in Quebec City.
Paced by a dominant performance by player of the match Tommy Bélisle, the fifth-seeded Rouge et Or exacted revenge on the Tigers, who had defeated them in two of their three RSEQ-AUS interlock meetings this season. Bélisle pounded a match-high 15 kills as Laval hit at a better than 20 per cent clip on the afternoon.
“We played three matches in the year against them, and we lost two of them,” said Bélisle, a third-year biology major from Pierreville, Que. “It was like a re-match for us. To finish the year against them with a 3-0 win like that made us very proud and it’s a great beginning for the tournament.”
After falling 25-16 in the opening set where they hit negative 10 per cent, the Tigers managed to turn things around for a much better performance in the second. Unfortunately for the Atlantic champs, the Rouge et Or got better as well, hitting a match-best 32.4 per cent in the second to take a 25-18 victory.
The third set was the tightest of the match as Dalhousie neutralized much of the Laval attack, holding them to just five per cent. But the Tigers struggled from the serving line, committing five service errors in the third set to hand the match to the Rouge et Or.
Third-year middle Connor Maessen earned player of the match honours for Dalhousie with his four-kill, eight-block perofmrnce in a losing cause. The tandem of Kristen O’Brien and Bryan Duquette led the way with seven kills each for the Tigers, while freshman middle Matthew Donovan had an efficient night, going 6-for-7 to go with a trio of blocks.
Bruno Lortie’s nine kills and Olivier Jannini’s seven complemented Bélisle’s offence for Laval, while setter Marc-André Morency added a match-high 11 digs to go with his 32 set assists.
Dalhousie hit just 7.9 per cent on the night, though the Tigers did manage to out-block the Rouge et Or by a 12.5-10 margin.
The youthful Rouge et Or, which lost key players from last year’s national championship squad, is looking to repeat as CIS champion for the first time in school history after winning it all on their home court last year.
“We have nine rookies, we’re a new team,” he explained. “It’s the not the same as last year so we’re not going to try and do the same thing.”
The Rouge et Or now get set for the top-seeded Alberta Golden Bears, who defeated Montreal in straight sets in the second quarterfinal of the afternoon.
Kills: Tommy Bélisle (15), Bruno Lortie (9)
Points: Tommy Bélisle (18.5), Bruno Lortie (12.5)
Blocks: Tommy Béslile (5), Alexandre Giguère (4)
Digs: Marc-André Morency (11), Bruno Lortie (9)
Service aces: Marc-André Morency, Olivier Jannini, Tommy Bélisle, Bruno Lortie (1)
Player of the match: Tommy Bélisle
Kills: Kristen O’Brien, Bryan Duquette (7)
Points: Kristen O’Brien, Bryan Duquette (9.5), Connor Maessen (9)
Blocks: Connor Maessen (8), Kristen O’Brien (5)
Digs: Adam Sandeson (10), Bryan Duquette, Kristen O’Brien (5)
Service aces: Alex Dempsey, Connor Maessen (1)
Player of the match: Connor Maessen
CHAMPIONSHIP SCHEDULE (all times MOUNTAIN TIME)
Thursday, February 27
- 12:30 Quarter-final #1: No. 5 Laval 3 No. 4 Dalhousie 0 (25-16, 25-18, 25-22)
- 14:30 Quarter-final #2: No. 1 Alberta vs. No. 8 Montreal
- 18:00 Quarter-final #3: No. 3 Trinity Western vs. No. 6 Western
- 20:00 Quarter-final #4: No. 2 McMaster vs. No. 7 Calgary
Friday, February 28
- 12:30 Consolation #1: Dalhousie vs. Loser QF #2
- 14:30 Consolation #2: Loser QF #3 vs. Loser QF #4
- 18:00 Semifinal #1: Laval vs. Winner QF #2
- 20:00 Semifinal #2: Winner QF #3 vs. Winner QF #4
Saturday, March 1
- 13:00 5th place
- 15:00 Bronze medal
- 18:00 Championship final