PREVIEW 2015 CIS men’s volleyball championship: Golden Bears looking to repeat in Saskatoon

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Feb 24, 2015

OTTAWA (CIS) – The University of Alberta Golden Bears hope to repeat as CIS men’s volleyball champions for the second time in program history later this week when the top eight teams in the country gather in Saskatoon for the 2015 national tournament.

The competition runs from Thursday to Saturday at the University of Saskatchewan and all 11 matches will be webcast live on www.CIS-SIC.tv, including the Tantramar Trophy final Saturday at 7 p.m. Central Time.

Looking for their first national title, the OUA champion McMaster Marauders are seeded No. 1 for the first time in school history thanks to their 26-1 overall record against CIS opponents so far this season. McMaster is the sixth different team in as many years to earn No. 1 status for the tourney, following Alberta (2014), Brandon (2013), Trinity Western (2012), Calgary (2011) and Laval (2010).

Rounding out the draw are the No. 2 Dalhousie Tigers (AUS champs), No. 3 Alberta (Canada West champs), No. 4 Laval Rouge et Or (RSEQ champs), No. 5 Trinity Western Spartans (Canada West finalists), No. 6 Waterloo Warriors (OUA finalists), No. 7 York Lions (OUA bronze medallists) and No. 8 Saskatchewan Huskies (hosts).

Thursday’s quarter-final matchups include York vs. Dalhousie in the 1 p.m. opener, Waterloo vs. reigning champ Alberta at 3 p.m., Trinity Western vs. Laval at 6 p.m., as well as host Saskatchewan vs. McMaster at 8 p.m.

Canada West teams have claimed 19 of the last 20 Tantramar Trophies, the one exception over that period being a Laval triumph in 2013. The only Ontario-based school to capture the banner since the inaugural national championship in 1967 was Ottawa, in 1968.

The top-ranked Marauders came oh-so-close in 2013 when they reached the CIS final for the first time, and they returned to the podium a year ago, this time finishing in third place. McMaster, whose veteran lineup features third-year middle Danny Demyanenko (OUA MVP), fifth-year setter Austin Campion-Smith (first-team OUA all-star) and fifth-year outside hitter Jori Mantha (2013-14 OUA MVP), has racked up 25 straight wins since its only setback of the campaign against a CIS rival, a five-set loss to Western in its league opener back on Oct. 17.

“We are very happy to be in Saskatoon, where there is a rich volleyball history and tradition. This event is shaping up to be a great experience for our student-athletes. I believe we are playing well and if we can remain consistent, good things should happen. Playing in front of the home crowd in our first game will be a big thrill for our players and we’re looking forward to it,” said 13-year head coach Dave Preston, whose team defeated tournament host Calgary 3-1 in last year’s opening round.

The No. 2 seeding is the best in history for Dalhousie, which will compete at the national level for the 34th time in 36 years and whose best result remains a silver medal in 1997. The Tigers, who hope to advance past the first round for the first time since 2008, enter the tournament with a superb 21-2 overall mark versus CIS competition, including a 3-1 non-conference record against Canada West teams and two wins in three interlock matches against RSEQ champion Laval.

“Our team had high expectations all season, and this week will be no different,” said 16-year bench boss Dan Ota. “We understand that there has been growing attention on our team this year, particularly in light of the success we’ve had on the court. We’ve done a great job of meeting our performance expectations on a consistent basis, but acknowledge that we face our biggest obstacle yet at the national championships. We look forward to the challenge of competing against some excellent teams with similar expectations as ourselves.”

Alberta, which swept Western in three sets in last year’s CIS final in Calgary, is the most decorated program at this week’s championship with seven Tantramar Trophy titles, including its lone back-to-back triumphs in 2008 and 2009. The Bears, who show an impressive 30-3 overall record against CIS opposition, hit a rough patch in January when they lost three of six over a three-week period, but have since righted the ship and enter the tourney on a five-game winning streak, including a four-set victory over Trinity Western in the Canada West final.

“It is an honour to be going back to the CIS championship. Our conference this year was incredibly close and we are fortunate to represent it,” said 22-year head coach Terry Danyluk, whose team will play at the tournament for the 15th straight season.

On paper, Laval doesn’t seem to have the firepower from two years ago when the perennial powerhouse put an end to an 18-year Canada West domination with a triumph on home court in Quebec City. However, the Rouge et Or feature one of the most exciting young players in the country in outside hitter Vicente Ignacio Parraguirre Villalobos, a member of the Chilean senior national team who was named RSEQ MVP in his university debut after he finished second in CIS with 4.35 kills per set.

“We’ve fought from start to finish this year to win our conference. There were many ups and downs, but over the final stretch, everything fell into place and the whole team started to believe. I would think the guys will still be hungry in Saskatoon,” said 23-year mentor Pascal Clément, whose program advanced to the CIS championship for the 18th straight campaign but is 0-3 all-time at the event against first-round opponent TWU. “We open against one of the top teams in the country. Should we be considered underdogs? Probably. But once you reach the national championship, whether you’re the favourite or the underdog, it’s all decided on the court.”

Trinity Western claimed its first CIS title in 2006 and added back-to-back banners in 2011 and 2012, but has failed to advance past the first round in each of the past two years. Led by fifth-year outside hitter Nick Del Bianco (Canada West MVP), the 2014-15 Spartans were riding a 16-game league and playoff winning streak before their four-set loss to Alberta in the Canada West final.

“Playing in the national tournament is the cap stone of every season. A year’s work has earned us another opportunity to compete with the nation’s best,” said eight-year head coach Ben Josephson, whose team is 29-7 overall this season versus CIS opponents. “I’m very excited for this year’s edition of Spartan volleyball to get to experience what this tournament is all about. This championship is far and away my favourite volleyball experience and I can’t wait to get to Saskatoon.”

Waterloo, York and Saskatchewan all return to the national championship following lengthy dry spells. The Warriors’ last appearance was in 1995, the Lions’ in 2005 and the Huskies’ in 2006.

“We have a good mix of seniors and sophomores that never give up on any set or point. They are a very talented group of guys and it has all come together down the stretch for us,” said eight-year Waterloo coach Chris Lawson, whose team beat York in four sets in the OUA semifinals before dropping a 3-0 decision to McMaster in the title match.

“It’s been a long time since we’ve been at the CIS championship, but York has a tradition of going to nationals and we are thrilled to be back,” said Lions interim head coach Mike Chumbley, who has shared coaching duties this season with 38-year veteran Wally Dyba. “The competition level is going to be really high. This tournament is loaded and I think all eight teams could win a medal. The match-ups are unique and each team provides a completely different challenge as an opponent.”

“Our program is honoured to be hosting the national championship again after 34 years. We hope it isn’t another 34 until we host again,” said 23-year Saskatchewan head coach Brian Gavlas, whose troops missed the Canada West playoffs after going 12-12 in league play. “Although our regular season didn’t end quite the way we wanted, we firmly believe we can compete and succeed against the best. We are looking forward to competing for a national championship in front of supportive family, alumni, friends and fans.”

PARTICIPATING TEAMS

No. 1 McMaster Marauders

Media Guide (PDF 2.6 MB)

Head Coach: Dave Preston (13th season)
Regular season record: 19-1
Regular season standing: 1st OUA
Playoff record: 2-0
Playoff finish: OUA champions
Overall record vs. CIS teams: 26-1
Final Top 10 ranking (Feb. 10): No. 1
Best Top 10 ranking: No. 1 (last 4 polls)
Number of weeks in Top 10 (13 polls): 13
Conference award winners: Danny Demyanenko (MVP), Dave Preston (coach)
Conference 1st team all-stars: Danny Demyanenko (M), Austin Campion-Smith (S)
Conference 2nd team all-stars: Brandon Koppers (OH), Jori Mantha (OH)
Conference all-rookie team: Andrew Richards (OH), Peter Khodkevych (M)
CIS championship best result: Finalists (2013)
CIS championship last appearance: 2014 (bronze medal)
CIS championship sequence: 3rd consecutive appearance (8th in 10 years)

No. 2 Dalhousie Tigers

Head Coach: Dan Ota (16th season)
Regular season record: 16-1
Regular season standing: 1st AUS
Playoff record: 2-0
Playoff finish: AUS champions
Overall record vs. CIS teams: 21-2
Top 10 final ranking (Feb. 10): No. 5
Top 10 best ranking: No. 5 (5 polls)
Top 10 number of weeks ranked (13 polls): 13
Conference award winners: Bryan Duquette (MVP), Adam Sandeson (libero), Dan Ota (coach)
Conference 1st team all-stars: Bryan Duquette (OH), Jonathan Macdonald (S), Kristen O’Brien (OH)
Conference 2nd team all-stars: No second team in AUS
Conference all-rookie team: No rookie team in AUS
CIS championship best result: Finalists (1997)
CIS championship last appearance: 2014 (6th place)
CIS championship sequence: 2nd consecutive appearance (34th in 36 years – missed 2013, 2011)

No. 3 Alberta Golden Bears

Head Coach: Terry Danyluk (22nd season)
Regular season record: 21-3
Regular season standing: 1st Canada West
Playoff record: 2-0
Playoff finish: Canada West champions
Overall record vs. CIS teams: 30-3
Top 10 final ranking (Feb. 10): No. 2
Top 10 best ranking: No. 1 (first 9 polls)
Top 10 number of weeks ranked (13 polls): 13
Conference award winners: None
Conference 1st team all-stars: Ryley Barnes (LS)
Conference 2nd team all-stars: Brett Walsh (S)
Conference all-rookie team: Alex McMullin (LS)
CIS championship best result: 7-time champions (2014, 2009, 2008, 2005, 2002, 1997, 1981)
CIS championship last appearance: 2014 (champions)
CIS championship sequence: 15th consecutive appearance (22nd in 23 years – missed 2000)

No. 4 Laval Rouge et Or

Head Coach: Pascal Clément (23rd season)
Regular season record: 12-5
Regular season standing: 1st RSEQ
Playoff record: 2-0
Playoff finish: RSEQ champions
Overall record vs. CIS teams: 16-5
Top 10 final ranking (Feb. 10): Unranked
Top 10 best ranking: No. 6 (poll #2)
Top 10 number of weeks ranked (13 polls): 2
Conference award winners: Vicente Ignacio Parraguirre Villalobos (MVP & rookie), Vincent Thibault-Bernier (libero)
Conference 1st team all-stars: Vicente Ignacio Parraguirre Villalobos (OH), Bruno Lortie (OH)
Conference 2nd team all-stars: No second team in RSEQ
Conference all-rookie team: No rookie team in RSEQ
CIS championship best result: 4-time champions (2013, 1994, 1992, 1990)
CIS championship last appearance: 2014 (4th place)
CIS championship sequence: 18th consecutive appearance (32nd in 34 years – missed 1997, 1993)

No. 5 Trinity Western Spartans

Media Guide (PDF 4.1 MB)

Head Coach: Ben Josephson (8th season)
Regular season record: 20-4
Regular season standing: 2nd Canada West
Playoff record: 3-1
Playoff finish: Canada West finalists
Overall record vs. CIS teams: 29-7
Final Top 10 ranking (Feb. 10): No. 3
Best Top 10 ranking: No. 2 (4 polls)
Number of weeks in Top 10 (13 polls): 13
Conference award winners: Nick Del Bianco (MVP), Tyler Koslowsky (libero)
Conference 1st team all-stars: Nick Del Bianco (OH)
Conference 2nd team all-stars: Ryan Sclater (OH)
Conference all-rookie team: None
CIS championship best result: 3-time champions (2012, 2011, 2006)
CIS championship last appearance: 2014 (5th place)
CIS championship sequence: 6th consecutive appearance (10th in 12 years)

No. 6 Waterloo Warriors

Media Guide (PDF 8.95 MB)

Head Coach: Chris Lawson (8th season)
Regular season record: 13-7
Regular season standing: 3rd OUA
Playoff record: 2-1
Playoff finish: OUA finalists
Overall record vs. CIS teams: 19-9
Final Top 10 ranking (Feb. 10): Unranked
Best Top 10 ranking: No. 10 (poll #12)
Number of weeks in Top 10 (13 polls): 1
Conference award winners: None
Conference 1st team all-stars: Jordan Dyck (M)
Conference 2nd team all-stars: Jordan McConkey (M), Zach Doherty (OH)
Conference all-rookie team: None
CIS championship best result: Bronze medallists (1991, 1990, 1984)
CIS championship last appearance: 1995 (5th place)
CIS championship sequence: Return after 19-year absence

No. 7 York Lions

Media Guide (PDF 776 KB)

Co-Head Coaches: Wally Dyba (38th season) & Mike Chumbley (1st season)
Regular season record: 13-7
Regular season standing: 4th OUA
Playoff record: 2-1
Playoff finish: OUA bronze medallists
Overall record vs. CIS teams: 20-12
Final Top 10 ranking (Feb. 10): Unranked
Best Top 10 ranking: No. 8 (poll #2)
Number of weeks in Top 10 (13 polls): 2
Conference award winners: Josh Henderson (rookie)
Conference 1st team all-stars: Ray Szeto (OH)
Conference 2nd team all-stars: Josh Henderson (OH)
Conference all-rookie team: Josh Henderson (OH), Arthur Swarcz (OH)
CIS championship best result: Bronze medallists (1989)
CIS championship last appearance: 2005 (7th place)
CIS championship sequence: Return after 9-year absence

No. 8 Saskatchewan Huskies

Head Coach: Brian Gavlas (23rd season)
Regular season record: 12-12
Regular season standing: 8th Canada West
Playoff record: 0-0
Playoff finish: Did not qualify
Overall record vs. CIS teams: 17-14
Final Top 10 ranking (Feb. 10): Unranked
Best Top 10 ranking: No. 7 (poll #7)
Number of weeks in Top 10 (13 polls): 7
Conference award winners: None
Conference 1st team all-stars: None
Conference 2nd team all-stars: Paul Thomson (LS)
Conference all-rookie team: Colin Fraser (LS)
CIS championship best result: 4-time champions (2004, 1999, 1988, 1979)
CIS championship last appearance: 2006 (7th place)
CIS championship sequence: Return after 8-year absence

CHAMPIONSHIP SCHEDULE (all times CENTRAL TIME)

Wednesday, February 25
7:30 All-Canadian Breakfast (Marquis Hall – Garry Room – U of S Campus)

Thursday, February 26
13:00 Quarter-final #1: No. 7 York vs. No. 2 Dalhousie (www.CIS-SIC.tv)
15:00 Quarter-final #2: No. 6 Waterloo vs. No. 3 Alberta (www.CIS-SIC.tv)
18:00 Quarter-final #3: No. 5 Trinity Western vs. No. 4 Laval (www.CIS-SIC.tv)
20:00 Quarter-final #4: No 8 Saskatchewan vs. No. 1 McMaster (www.CIS-SIC.tv)

Friday, February 27
13:00 Consolation #1: Loser QF #1 vs. Loser QF #2 (www.CIS-SIC.tv)
15:00 Consolation #2: Loser QF #3 vs. Loser QF #4 (www.CIS-SIC.tv)
18:00 Semifinal #1: Winner QF #1 vs. Winner QF #2 (www.CIS-SIC.tv)
20:00 Semifinal #2: Winner QF #3 vs. Winner QF #4 (www.CIS-SIC.tv)

Saturday, February 28
14:00 5th place (www.CIS-SIC.tv)
16:00 Bronze medal (www.CIS-SIC.tv)
19:00 Championship final (www.CIS-SIC.tv)

About Canadian Interuniversity Sport

Canadian Interuniversity Sport is the national governing body of university sport in Canada. Every year, over 11,500 student-athletes and 700 coaches from 56 universities and four regional associations vie for 21 national championships in 12 different sports. CIS also provides high performance international opportunities for Canadian student-athletes at Winter and Summer Universiades, as well as numerous world university championships. For further information, visit www.cis-sic.ca or follow us on:

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