(ISN) – NEW WESTMINSTER, BC – The Alberta Golden Bears and Pandas play host to the 2014-15 Canada West Men’s and Women’s Volleyball Final Four this Thursday through Saturday, February 19-21.

Like Alberta, the UBC Thunderbirds and Trinity Western Spartans will also be fielding both of their men’s and women’s squads. The Brandon Bobcats round out the men’s Final Four, while the UBC Okanagan Heat complete the foursome in women’s.

Both men’s and women’s championship events feature three of the top four CIS teams. In women’s, no. 1 Alberta, no. 2 UBC Okanagan and no. 4 Trinity Western are joined by defending conference champion and no. 10-ranked UBC. In men’s, the No. 2 Bears attempt to defend their title as Canada West champion against a high-powered field of contenders consisting of no. 3 Trinity Western, no. 4 Brandon and no. 8 UBC.

All games will be webcasted live on CanadaWest.TV.

Schedule (all times MST):

Thursday, February 19
Women 6:00 pm – UBC Thunderbirds vs. Alberta Pandas
Women 7:30 pm – UBC Okanagan Heat vs. Trinity Western Spartans

Friday, February 20
Men 2:30 pm – Brandon Bobcats vs. Trinity Western Spartans
Women 4:30 pm – Bronze Medal Match
Men 6:30 pm – UBC Thunderbirds vs. Alberta Golden Bears
Women 8:30 pm – Gold Medal Match

Saturday, February 21
Men 5:00 pm – Bronze Medal Match
Men 6:30 pm – Gold Medal Match
WOMEN.

Alberta Pandas

Head Coach: Laurie Eisler

Regular season record: 19-5 (1st)

Season record vs. Final Four teams: 2-0 versus Trinity Western, 1-1 versus UBC Okanagan, 1-1 versus UBC

Final CIS Top 10 ranking: #1

2014-15 CW Award Winners: None

2014-15 CW All-Stars: Meg Casault, Dione Lang

2014-15 CW All-Rookie Team: Erica Walsh

Points leader: Meg Casault (4.3 points/set)

Kills leader: Meg Casault (3.72 kills/set)

Assists leader: Mariah Walsh (9.16 assist/set)

Digs leader: Jessie Niles (3.86 digs/set)

Service Aces leader: Josephine Doerfler & Jessica Stroud (0.44 service aces/set)

Blocks leader: Dione Lang (1.14 blocks/set)

Team national ranking (points): 4th (17.0 points/set)

Team national ranking (kills): 2nd (12.31 kills/set)

Team national ranking (assists): 4th (11.26 assists/set)

Team national ranking (digs): 16th (14.99 digs/set)

Team national ranking (service aces): 4th (2.22 service aces/set)

Team national ranking (blocks): 9th (2.43 blocks/set)

2013-14 CW Tournament Placing: Lost in quarterfinals

Last CW Title: 2012

EDMONTON – The University of Alberta Pandas volleyball team is searching for its first Canada West championship since 2012 as they act as host of the conference Final Four over the February 19-20 weekend at the Saville Community Sports Centre.

Despite a three-team tie at the top of the Canada West standings, where Alberta, UBC Okanagan and Trinity Western all finished with identical 19-5 records, the Pandas earned the number one seed thanks to a superior sets won and sets lost record. Alberta won a Canada West best 65 sets this season, and lost a Canada West low of just 20 sets. They also enter the conference championship series with the No.1 ranking in CIS, and they boast the top conference leaders in hitting percentage (.232), kills per set (12.31), aces (189) and points per set (17.0). They also boast top five standing in points, points per set, total blocks and assists. Alberta was also the top CIS team in aces, and was second in the nation in kills per set, and fourth in hitting percentage and points per set.

Individually, three members of the Evergreen and Gold were named to the conference all-star teams, led by Meg Casault’s selection to the conference first team. It is the second year in a row the third-year outside hitter has been named to the Canada West First Team. She also finished third in CIS in kills (316) and fifth in kills per set (3.72). Named to the Second Team was fifth-year middle Dione Lang, which represents her first All-Star selection, while rookie outside hitter Erica Walsh was named to the conference All-Rookie Team. Lang recorded Alberta’s top hitting percentage (.306), while also picking the eighth most blocks in CIS (97). Libero Jessie Niles, meanwhile, finished fifth in digs in CIS this season, with 328, while Josephine Doerfler (37) and Jessica Stroud (37) tied for fifth in aces within CIS, and setter Mariah Walsh banked 779 assists, fifth most in the country.

Trinity Western Spartans

Head Coach: Ryan Hofer

Regular season record: 19-5 (2nd)

Season record vs. Final Four teams: 0-2 versus Alberta, 1-1 versus UBC Okanagan, 1-1 versus UBC

Final CIS Top 10 ranking: #4

2014-15 CW Award Winners: None

2014-15 CW All-Stars: Alicia Perrin, Sophie Carpentier

2014-15 CW All-Rookie Team: None

Points leader: Sophie Carpentier (4.0 points/set)

Kills leader: Sophie Carpentier (3.28 kills/set)

Assists leader: Vanessa Cornwall (8.83 assists/set)

Digs leader: Kristen Moncks (2.86 digs/set)

Service Aces leader: Sophie Carpentier (0.41 service aces/set)

Blocks leader: Alicia Perrin (1.48 blocks/set)

Team national ranking (points): 5th (16.7 points/set)

Team national ranking (kills): 9th (11.81 kills/set)

Team national ranking (assists): 5th (11.16 assists/set)

Team national ranking (digs): 34th (12.81 digs/set)

Team national ranking (service aces): 20th (1.80 service aces/set)

Team national ranking (blocks): 1st (3.13 blocks/set)

2013-14 CW Tournament Placing: 3rd

Last CW Title: N/A

LANGLEY – While the Spartans have six Canada West medals to their credit and have advanced to the conference championship match on three separate occasions, TWU comes into this weekend’s Final Four still searching for its first ever conference crown.

With six fifth-year athletes on the roster and a squad that is as deep as any team coach Ryan Hofer has seen in his nine seasons at the helm, this year’s group has as good of a chance as any TWU side in history to capture gold. However, before the Spartans can dream of conference glory, they’ll have to deal with UBC Okanagan in the semifinals, which features a rematch of last year’s Canada West bronze medal game. In that contest, the Spartans earned a four-set win, which not only earned TWU a berth in the national tournament but also dashed the Heat’s hopes of its first CIS championship appearance.

Since an early season four-match losing streak saw the Spartans fall below .500, TWU turned things around and now enters this weekend having won 18 of its last 19 contests, including a weekend sweep of Brandon in the Canada West quarterfinals.

Thanks to a dominating block that averaged 3.13 blocks per set and sat atop the CIS leaderboard all season, the Spartans have been ranked amongst the CIS Top 10 all year and were amongst the top five teams in the country for the final seven polls.

Four-time Canada West all-star Alicia Perrin leads the team from the middle with a whopping 1.48 blocks per set while also contributing 2.57 kills per set with a .328 attacking efficiency. On the outside, two-time Canada West all-star Sophie Carpentier led TWU with 3.28 kills per set in the regular season, which included hitting double digits in kills in 17 of the 23 matches she played this season.

After entering the year as the No. 1 ranked team in the country, the Spartans fell as low as No. 8 in mid-November. Since then, the veteran-laden TWU side has been a model of consistency. Over the last three months, the Spartans’ only setback was a five-set road loss against UBC. Outside of that mid-January blip, TWU, who is in search of its fifth straight CIS national championship appearance, has earned nine of its last 10 wins in just three sets.

UBC Okanagan Heat

Head Coach: Steve Manuel

Regular season record: 19-5 (3rd)

Season record vs. Final Four teams: 1-1 versus Alberta, 1-1 versus Trinity Western, 0-2 versus UBC

Final CIS Top 10 ranking: #2

2014-15 CW Award Winners: None

2014-15 CW All-Stars: Katy Klomps, Katie Wuttanee

2014-15 CW All-Rookie Team: None

Points leader: Brianna Beamish (3.7 points/set)

Kills leader: Brianna Beamish (3.23 kills/set)

Assists leader: Emily Oxland (5.62 assists/set)

Digs leader: Kailin Jones (3.41 digs/set)

Service Aces leader: Megan Festival (0.47 service aces/set)

Blocks leader: Katy Klomps (1.59 blocks/set)

Team national ranking (points): 6th (16.3 points/set)

Team national ranking (kills): 10th (11.76 kills/set)

Team national ranking (assists): 9th (10.92 assists/set)

Team national ranking (digs): 28th (13.85 digs/set)

Team national ranking (service aces): 9th (1.94 service aces/set)

Team national ranking (blocks): 5th (2.58 blocks/set)

2013-14 CW Tournament Placing: 4th

Last CW Title: N/A

KELOWNA, BC – For the second straight season, the UBC Okanagan Heat have advanced to the Canada West Women’s Volleyball Final Four after dispatching the defending national champion Manitoba Bisons in the opening round of the 2015 Canada West playoffs.
Finishing the season at 19-5 and in a three-way tie for first place in the regular season, the No. 2 nationally ranked Heat entered the playoffs as the Canada West third seed and will play the second seed Trinity Western Spartans in the first game of the Final Four hosted by the Alberta Pandas.
After completing the best regular season in the team’s history that included two weeks at the No. 1 spot in Canada, twice knocking off the top-ranked team in the country, and a 13-game win streak, the Heat will look to advance to a national championship for the first time ever.
Although one win is needed to qualify, the road to the national championships will be no easy task for UBC Okanagan as the Final Four is comprised of three of the four teams who have bested the Heat in 2014-15. The Heat split with both TWU and Alberta and lost twice to sister school UBC.
The well rounded club from Kelowna boasts two Canada West All-Stars in the middle with fourth years Katy Klomps and Katie Wuttanee. Klomps is a game changer defensively and set a record in total blocks this year (135) and can score when needed (1.61 kills / set, .331). Wuttanee is one of the most efficient attackers in the conference (2.12 kills / set, .334) as well as being strong on the block (71).
Leading the team in scoring is fourth year outside hitter Brianna Beamish (302 points, 3.23 kills / set, .211) while Megan Festival finished tops in the nation with 44 aces. Utilizing two setters and maximizing the double-sub former CIS coach of the year Steve Manuel has another pair of dangerous players from the service line in setters Chandler Proch (27) and Emily Oxland (31) as the team served the second most aces (188).
UBC Okanagan, in just their fourth year in the CIS, hope their experience at last year’s Canada West Women’s Volleyball Final Four will help them add to the school’s list of firsts this time around with: a championship, a medal, and a trip to the CIS national championships at the University of Toronto.

UBC Thunderbirds

Head Coach: Doug Reimer

Regular season record: 13-11 (5th)

Season record vs. Final Four teams: 1-1 versus Alberta, 1-1 versus Trinity Western, 2-0 versus UBC Okanagan

Final CIS Top 10 ranking: #10

2014-15 CW Award Winners: None

2014-15 CW All-Stars: Danielle Brisebois

2014-15 CW All-Rookie Team: None

Points leader: Danielle Brisebois (3.5 points/set)

Kills leader: Danielle Brisebois (3.04 kills/set)

Assists leader: Alessandra Gentile (8.46 assists/set)

Digs leader: Juliana Kaufmanis (2.27 digs/set)

Service Aces leader: Kelsey Clarke (0.35 service aces/set)

Blocks leader: Emily Cicon (1.00 blocks/set)

Team national ranking (points): 8th (16.1 points/set)

Team national ranking (kills): 4th (12.16 kills/set)

Team national ranking (assists): 2nd (11.45 assists/set)

Team national ranking (digs): 36th (11.96 digs/set)

Team national ranking (service aces): 14th (1.90 service aces/set)

Team national ranking (blocks): 24th (1.99 blocks/set)

2013-14 CW Tournament Placing: 1ST

Last CW Title: 2014

VANCOUVER – The UBC Thunderbirds will make their eighth straight appearance at the Canada West Final Four this weekend in Edmonton. They return as defending champions but are the underdogs after a 13-11 regular season campaign, six games behind the other squads at the Final Four. However, UBC does own wins over all three of those teams, including a sweep of UBC Okanagan on Halloween weekend. The Thunderbirds split a pair of five-set matches on November 14-15 against Alberta, their opponents in the opening match of the Final Four.

To open the playoffs last weekend, the Thunderbirds travelled to Calgary and swept the host Dinos in a best-of-three quarter-final series. Fifth-year senior Rosie Schlagintweit of Abbotsford, B.C., was named the Canada West Third Star of the Week after posting 31 kills, 21 digs and an impressive .422 hitting percentage over the series. UBC’s other big guns also had good performances as second team Canada West All-Star Danielle Brisebois (Bolton, Ont.) and reigning CIS Most Valuable Player Lisa Barclay (Brandon, Man.) recorded 29 and 24 kills, respectively.

MEN.

Alberta Golden Bears

Head Coach: Terry Danyluk

Regular season record: 21-3 (1st)

Season record vs. Final Four teams: 2-0 versus Trinity Western, 1-1 versus Brandon, 2-0 versus UBC

Final CIS Top 10 ranking: #2

2014-15 Canada West Award Winners: None

2014-15 Canada West All-Stars: Ryley Barnes, Brett Walsh

2014-15 Canada West All-Rookie Team: Alex McMullin

Points leader: Ryley Barnes (4.6 points/set)

Kills leader: Ryley Barnes (4.00 kills/set)

Assists leader: Brett Walsh (10.97 assists/set)

Digs leader: Reed May (1.73 digs/set)

Service Aces leader: Ryley Barnes (0.27 service aces/set)

Blocks leader: Josh Goranson (1.14 blocks/set)

Team national ranking (points): 4th (16.8 points/set)

Team national ranking (kills): 3rd (13.03 kills/set)

Team national ranking (assists): 2nd (12.22 assists/set)

Team national ranking (digs): 27th (8.03 digs/set)

Team national ranking (service aces): 17th (1.20 service aces/set)

Team national ranking (blocks): 10th (2.55 blocks/set)

2013-14 CW Tournament Placing: 1st

Last CW Title: 2014

EDMONTON – The University of Alberta Golden bears volleyball team is in the hunt for its second consecutive Canada West championship as they host the conference Final Four over the February 20-21 weekend at the Saville Community Sports Centre.

Joining the Bears this weekend in the Final Four will be the UBC Thunderbirds, the Trinity Western Spartans and the Brandon Bobcats. Alberta posted 2-0 records against both UBC and TWU, but is 1-1 this season against the Bobcats.

Alberta, also defending CIS champions, finished atop the Canada West standings this season, thanks to a 19-3 record. The Golden Bears also enter the conference championships as the No.2 ranked team in CIS, trailing only the McMaster Marauders, as well as the conference leaders in hitting percentage (.301) and kills per set (13.03). They also boast top five standing in points, points per set, total blocks and assists.

Individually, Alberta is well represented on the conference all-star front as well, with fourth-year left-side hitter Ryley Barnes earning first team status, while setter Brett Walsh was named to the second team and rookie Alex McMullin was placed on the conference all-rookie team. Barnes actually leads the entire nation in kills (376) and points (429.5) and is fifth in CIS in kills per set (4.00). The native of St. Paul, Alberta also sits 27th in Canada in hitting percentage (.299) and 17th in aces (25). Veteran middle John Goranson, who is in his fourth season, is third in Canada West hitting percentage, at .419, while Walsh led all setters in CIS in assists with 1,030. In fact, Walsh became the first player in Canada West history to record 1,000 or more assists in a single conference season, and now has over 2,000 in his career.

The Golden Bears open the Canada West championship against UBC at 6:30 p.m. MST on Friday, February 20, while Brandon and TWU play at 2:30 p.m. on Friday. The gold medal game will get underway at 6:30 pm on Saturday, while bronze will be decided at 5:00 pm. Only the top two teams will advance to the CIS championship, which is hosted this year by the University of Saskatchewan Huskies between February 26 and 28 in Saskatoon.

Trinity Western Spartans

Head Coach: Ben Josephson

Regular season record: 20-4 (2nd)

Season record vs. Final Four teams: 0-2 versus Alberta, 1-1 versus Brandon, 2-0 versus UBC

Final CIS Top 10 ranking: #3

2014-15 Canada West Award Winners: Nick Del Bianco (Most Valuable Player), Tyler Koslowsky (Libero of the Year)

2014-15 Canada West All-Stars: Nick Del Bianco

2014-15 Canada West All-Rookie Team: None

Points leader: Nick Del Bianco (4.9 points/set)

Kills leader: Nick Del Bianco (3.92 kills/set)

Assists leader: Adam Schriemer (8.31 assists/set)

Digs leader: Tyler Koslowsky (2.66 digs/set)

Service Aces leader: Nick Del Bianco (0.57 service aces/set)

Blocks leader: Daniel Grant (1.46 blocks/set)

Team national ranking (points): 3rd (16.9 points/set)

Team national ranking (kills): 8th (12.44 kills/set)

Team national ranking (assists): 8th (11.59 assists/set)

Team national ranking (digs): 9th (9.70 digs/set)

Team national ranking (service aces): 2nd (1.54 service aces/set)

Team national ranking (blocks): 3rd (2.96 blocks/set)

2013-14 CW Tournament Placing: 2nd

Last CW Title: 2012

LANGLEY – The Spartans enter the Canada West championship as the hottest team in the conference having won 15 straight matches, including 13 games in a row to end the regular season. With a semifinal matchup against Brandon, who is the last team to beat the Spartans back on November 21, TWU enters this weekend needing a 16th consecutive win to earn a spot in the Canada West gold medal match for the fourth straight season and a berth in the CIS championship tournament for the sixth year in a row.

Friday’s afternoon contest against the Bobcats marks a rematch of last year’s Canada West semifinal in which the Spartans won 3-0 to earn a spot in the both the conference title tilt and the national tournament. This is the third straight year TWU has played Brandon at the Final Four as the Spartans and Bobcats battled for the conference title in 2013, with Brandon winning gold with a four-set victory.

The Spartans, who are largely led by the Canada West Player of the Year Nick Del Bianco and the Canada West Libero of the Year Tyler Koslowsky, are coming off an impressive campaign in which they led the conference in blocks per set, at 2.96, aces per set, at 1.54, and were second in attacking efficiency, at .287.

Del Bianco led the CIS in aces, with 0.57 per set and finished third in Canada West with 3.92 kills per set. Daniel Grant was a force in the middle all season as he led the CIS with 1.46 blocks per set while Koslowsky dominated the back court, collecting a CIS-leading 245 digs.

After winning Canada West gold in 2012, the Spartans have lost in the conference championship match in each of the past two years, falling to Brandon in 2013 and Alberta in 2014, and have their scopes directly set on returning to conference glory. All-time, TWU has played for the Canada West title seven times and has a record of 2-5.

Brandon Bobcats

Head Coach: Grant Wilson

Regular season record: 19-5 (3rd)

Season record vs. Final Four teams: 1-1 versus Alberta, 1-1 versus Trinity Western, 2-0 versus UBC

Final CIS Top 10 ranking: #4

2014-15 Canada West Award Winners: Grant Wilson (Coach of the Year)

2014-15 Canada West All-Stars: Sebastien Steigmeier, Sam Tuivai

2014-15 Canada West All-Rookie Team: None

Points leader: Sebastien Steigmeier (4.5 points/set)

Kills leader: Sebastien Steigmeier (3.58 kills/set)

Assists leader: David Stasica (10.24 assists/set)

Digs leader: Jeremy Davies (2.26 digs/set)

Service Aces leader: Sebastien Steigmeier (0.40 service aces/set)

Blocks leader: Frank Jones (1.20 blocks/set)

Team national ranking (points): 6th (16.6 points/set)

Team national ranking (kills): 5th (12.64 kills/set)

Team national ranking (assists): 4th (12.00 assists/set)

Team national ranking (digs): 4th (10.15 digs/set)

Team national ranking (service aces): 10th (1.36 service aces/set)

Team national ranking (blocks): 7th (2.59 blocks/set)

2013-14 CW Tournament Placing: 4th

Last CW Title: 2013

BRANDON – For the third consecutive year, the Bobcats will play the Trinity Western Spartans in the Canada West Final Four, and to an extent, it will be the rubber match as the two teams split in their previous meetings.

Brandon beat Trinity Western to capture the program’s first Canada West league title in 2012-13, but Trinity Western ended Brandon’s season one year ago in the conference semifinal.

The Bobcats will look to exact a measure of revenge this year, but the ‘Cats know they have their work cut out. The Spartans were arguably the best team in the country in the second half of the season, losing only one of their last 17 matches, including a sweep in last weekend’s playoff series.

The Bobcats qualified for the post-season for the eighth straight season in just the team’s tenth season since joining the league. It’s the third-longest active playoff streak behind Trinity and Alberta.

The Bobcats were led this season by four players completing their Canada West careers. Conference all-stars Sebastien Steigmeier and Sam Tuivai led the offensive attack in the regular season, finishing in the top 10 in conference leaders in kills and points. Team captain Brendan White has been the consummate leader both on and off the court, leading the Bobcats to the team’s best record in program history at 19-5. White is also en route to becoming the first student-athlete in Brandon University’s history to be designated a five-time CIS Academic All-Canadian. Frank Jones rounded out his career in style. The middle blocker led the conference in attack efficiency (.466) and finished fourth in blocks per set (1.20).

The Bobcats are coming off an emotional weekend in which they knocked off the Winnipeg Wesmen in the Canada West quarterfinal series after dropping the first match.

The first time the Bobcats played the Spartans in the playoffs was in the CIS national championship match in 2011. The host Spartans knocked off the Bobcats, giving Brandon its best season finish, a CIS silver medal.

UBC Thunderbirds

Head Coach: Richard Schick

Regular season record: 13-11 (5th)

Season record vs. Final Four teams: 0-2 versus Alberta, 0-2 versus Trinity Western, 0-2 versus Brandon

Final CIS Top 10 ranking: #8

2014-15 Canada West Award Winners: None

2014-15 Canada West All-Stars: Mac McNicol

2014-15 Canada West All-Rookie Team: Byron Keturakis

Points leader: Mac McNicol (3.6 points/set)

Kills leader: Mac McNicol (3.12 kills/set)

Assists leader: Milan Nikic (9.52 assists/set)

Digs leader: Irvan Brar (1.98 digs/set)

Service Aces leader: Milan Nikic (0.34 service aces/set)

Blocks leader: Chris Howe (1.24 blocks/set)

Team national ranking (points): 7th (16.6 points/set)

Team national ranking (kills): 4th (12.89 kills/set)

Team national ranking (assists): 3rd (12.19 assists/set)

Team national ranking (digs): 11th (9.43 digs/set)

Team national ranking (service aces): 23rd (1.09 service aces/set)

Team national ranking (blocks): 9th (2.58 blocks/set)

2013-14 CW Tournament Placing: Lost in quarterfinals

Last CW Title: 1984

VANCOUVER – The UBC Thunderbirds return to the Canada West Final Four after a year’s absence. They enter the league championship tournament on a five-match winning streak, two of which came last weekend when the team swept the host Manitoba Bisons in a best-of-three quarter-final series in Winnipeg.

Fifth-year senior Quentin Schmidt had his best performance of the season last weekend for UBC, registering 36 kills overall and an excellent .406 hitting percentage in the two wins over Manitoba.

The Thunderbirds have a veteran squad with experienced starters everywhere on the court, from setter Milan Nikic to libero Ian Perry, who has the second most digs all-time in Canada West history. Outside hitter Mac McNicol was a Second Team Canada West All-Star for the Thunderbirds, who finished 13-11 in regular season play. Middles Chris Howe and Alex Russell are a big part of why the team was second in the league in blocks.

UBC had the most kills and points of any team in the conference this year. The top four teams in the Canada West in kills and points during the 2014-15 campaign are also the same squads competing this weekend in the Final Four.

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