March 1, 2014, CALGARY (ISN) – In their fifth try of the year, the Western Mustangs finally knocked off the McMaster Marauders and, in doing so, qualified for the national final for the first time in school history after an emotional 3-1 victory (25-23, 17-25, 30-28, 25-20) in the semi-final of the 2014 CIS men’s volleyball championship.
Sixth-seeded Western will face No. 1 Alberta for the Tantramar Trophy Saturday in the University of Calgary’s Jack Simpson Gym, with first serve at 6 p.m. MT live on www.CIS-SIC.tv. “I can’t put into words how I feel,” said fourth-year outside hitter Garrett May, named Western’s player of the match after an inspired 21-kill performance. “For this team, we’ve been working hard all year and playing against this Mac team in the semi-final, I mean, they had our number all year and for us to get this win at this point in the season, it’s indescribable.”
“I’m a little bit lost for words,” echoed Mustangs coach Jim Sage. “I’m extremely proud of the guys working so hard together as a team. Garrett played great, but everybody contributed. The comeback in the third set was amazing, and that gave us a taste. And in the fourth set we kept that buffer zone a little bit, and it happened.
“Kudos to Mac – they are a great team and they had a great season.” The turning point was that third-set comeback. After the teams split the first two 25-23 for Western and 25-17 for the Marauders, McMaster looked to be in control with a 22-15 advantage. But a service error – one of McMaster’s 19 on the night – sparked a 6-0 run for the Mustangs to put them right back in it. Western eventually tied it at 24, and from there they went back and forth until May’s eighth kill of the set finally ended it 30-28 in Western’s favour.
In the fourth, a Doug Austrom service ace gave Western the lead for good at 9-8, and they were able to hold off McMaster to clinch the win in four sets.
It’s a disappointing end to the season for a McMaster squad that went 19-1 in the OUA and had dreams of a first national title of its own.
“We didn’t serve very well and it put too much pressure on our offence – and then, Western played absolutely amazing,” said a dejected Marauders head coach Dave Preston. “They did everything they had to do to put us in the position that they did, and then it just came down to fundamentals. They were better tonight for sure.
“It’s very difficult. Our guys had a lot invested in this and it’s a very quick turnaround. But we have some great character kids so I trust for tomorrow they will play for the medal that they have the opportunity for.”
May’s 21 kills were augmented by 14 from Justin Scapinello and 10 by Phil James, while Sean McKay led the way defensively with 11 digs.
McMaster’s offensive leader was Stephen Maar with 14 kills, while Dany Demyanenko had 11 kills and was in on six blocks to earn player-of-the-match honours for the Marauders.
McMaster will face Laval in the bronze medal match at 3 p.m. MT Saturday with not only a medal up for grabs, but also an additional berth for their conference at the 2015 CIS championship in Saskatoon.
Western, meanwhile, faces the challenge of regrouping after another hard-fought, emotional victory to face a powerhouse Golden Bears squad searching for the seventh national title in school history. The Mustangs upended third-seeded Trinity Western in the quarterfinal round on Thursday in an epic five-set affair and will look to continue their Cinderella story Saturday night in search of the school’s first CIS men’s volleyball title.
“We don’t know a whole lot about Alberta,” Sage admitted, “but they’re a talented, deep, strong team. We’re going to have to step it up and bring our best or they can dominate. If we get contributions from everyone I think we’ll be okay, and we’ll see how it goes.”
“I know the boys will be fired up tonight, but when we wake up tomorrow, we know we’ll be ready to go,” said May. “This is what we’ve trained all year for, so we’ll be ready to go tomorrow.”
A social sciences student from Toronto, May will suit up against his younger brother Reed – libero for the Golden Bears – in the national final on Saturday.
- Kills: Ryley Barnes (14), Jay Olmstead (11)
- Points: Ryley Barnes (16), John Goranson, Jay Olmstead (12.5)
- Blocks: John Goranson (7), Matt McCreary (6)
- Digs: Reed May (9), Brett Walsh, Ryley Barnes (6)
- Service aces: Brett Walsh, Ryley Barnes, Jarron Mueller (1)
Player of the match: Ryley Barnes
- Kills: Olivier Jannini (15), Tommy Bélisle (13)
- Points: Olivier Jannini (16), Bruno Lortie (15.5)
- Blocks: Bruno Lortie (5), Olivier Bibeault-Pinard (4)
- Digs: Tommy Bélisle, Vincent Thibeault-Bernier (8), Bruno Lortie (6)
- Service aces: Bruno Lotrie (3), Marc-André Morency (1)
Player of the match: Olivier Jannini
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 3 No. 8 Montreal 0 (25-19, 25-18, 25-12)
- 18:00 Quarter-final #3: No. 6 Western 3 No. 3 Trinity Western 2 (25-21, 22-25, 19-25, 27-25, 15-12)
- 20:00 Quarter-final #4: No. 2 McMaster 3 No. 7 Calgary 1 (24-26, 21-25, 17-25, 22-25)
Friday, February 28
- 12:30 Consolation #1: No. 4 Dalhousie 3 No. 8 Montreal 2 (25-17, 27-29, 16-25, 25-23, 15-13)
- 14:30 Consolation #2: No. 3 Trinity Western 2 vs. No. 7 Calgary 1 (19-25, 26-24, 25-16, 25-22)
- 18:00 Semifinal #1: No. 1 Alberta 3 No. 5 Laval 1 (25-19, 23-25, 25-23, 25-23)
- 20:00 Semifinal #2: No. 6 Western 3 No. 2 McMaster 1 (25-23, 17-25, 30-28, 25-20)
Saturday, March 1
- 13:00 5th Place: No. 4 Dalhousie vs. No. 3 Trinity Western
- 15:00 Bronze medal: No. 5 Laval vs. No. 2 McMaster
- 18:00 Championship final: No. 1 Alberta vs. No. 6 Western