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Feb 26, 2015

Courtesy of Matt Packwood, Brandon University Sports Information / Photo credit Josh Schaefer Photography

SASKATOON (CIS) – The No. 2 seeded Dalhousie University Tigers fended off a comeback bid from the No. 7 seeded York University Lions with a 3-2 (25-23, 25-19, 25-27, 16-25, 15-13) win in the first quarter-final of the 2015 CIS Men’s Volleyball Championship Thursday afternoon.

Post game interviews

Dalhousie seemed to be in control throughout the first two sets, but York refused to go away and proved they deserved to be at the national tournament.

The first set saw the two teams trading blows, the largest lead of the set being just three points. The Tigers extended their lead to 23-20, before an Alexander Dempsey kill gave Dalhousie the first set 25-23.

York opened the second set with three straight points before Dalhousie battled back to lead the set at 8-7. The Tigers would slowly build lead to 22-17 when York called a second time-out, but it was a futile effort as Dalhousie took the set 25-19 to take a 2-0 match lead.

The third set featured no dramatic leads early, but an incredibly dramatic end. Dalhousie worked to a 23-19 lead before York battled back. Fifth-year outside hitter Ray Szeto’s back row attack tied the set at 24-24 before a block by Nikola Sandich gave the Lions a 25-24 lead. The two teams would trade points before an attack by Dalhousie sailed just past the end line. The line judge ruled the ball in before the umpire over-turned the call, giving York a 27-25 third set victory, effectively keeping their hopes alive.

Jumping to an early lead York, leading by as much as ten points before taking the set 25-16.

A big block by Matthew Donovan gave Dalhousie an 8-5 lead in fifth set, and seemed to be the turning point, but York refused to go away, battling back to a 12-12 tie. Dalhousie found a way to close out the match despite a last ditch effort from the Lions. The Tigers took the final set 15-13.

Tigers head coach Dan Ota was pleased with his team’s tournament starting performance, despite not closing the match when they had the opportunity.

“York really fought back hard, with their backs against the wall in the third set and they really deserve a lot of credit,” says Ota. “Our guys are a lot more comfortable playing in these tight situations, so we knew what we had to do. We had to get on and play that fifth set, so I’m really happy with how our guys bounced back.”

Three Tigers finished in double-digit kills, led by Kristen O’Brien’s team-high 17 kills. Alex Dempsey put up 14 kills while Bryan Duquette contributed 13 kills. O’Brien was named Dalhousie’s player of the match for his efforts. Fourth-year setter Jonathan Macdonald dished 45 assists, while second-year libero Adam Sandeson finished with a team-high 11 digs.

York was paced by Szeto’s match-high 20 kills. The fifth-year All-Canadian kept the Lions alive, playing in his final CIS season. CIS Rookie of the Year Josh Henderson put up 12 kills, while Nikola Sandic had a match-high 46 assists.

“It was a hard fought battle,” said York Lions coach Mike Chumbley. “Dalhousie came out guns blazing and we had a bit of first time jitters that got to us off the hop. As we got more comfortable with the court and surroundings, we felt we had a real opportunity to extend the match and even win the fifth set. We had two swings that went a bit to far outside the court. We’ll go back review the video, learn from this, reset for tomorrow and for down the road.”

The Tigers move to the semifinal Saturday against the Alberta Golden Bears, while York drops to the consolation semifinal against the Waterloo Warriors.


Kills: Ryan Szeto (20), Josh Henderson (12)
Points: Ray Szeto (21), Josh Henderson (16.5)
Blocks: Josh Henderson (5)
Digs: Josh Henderson (16)
Service aces: Josh Henderson, Arthur Swarcz (2)

Player of the match: Ray Szeto

Kills: Kristen O’Brien (17), Alex Dempsey (14)
Points: Kristen O’Brien (18.5)
Blocks: Connor Maessen (5)
Digs: Adam Sanderson (16)
Service aces: Bryan Duquette (2)

Player of the match: Kristen O’Brien


Thursday, February 26
13:00 Quarter-final #1: Dalhousie 3, York 2 (25-23, 25-19, 25-27, 16-25, 15-13)
15:00 Quarter-final #2: No. 6 Waterloo vs. No. 3 Alberta (
18:00 Quarter-final #3: No. 5 Trinity Western vs. No. 4 Laval (
20:00 Quarter-final #4: No 8 Saskatchewan vs. No. 1 McMaster (

Friday, February 27
13:00 Consolation #1: No. 7 York vs. No. 6 Waterloo (
15:00 Consolation #2: Loser QF #3 vs. Loser QF #4 (
18:00 Semifinal #1: No. 3 Alberta vs. No. 2 Dalhousie (
20:00 Semifinal #2: Winner QF #3 vs. Winner QF #4 (

Saturday, February 28
14:00 5th place (
16:00 Bronze medal (
19:00 Championship final (