Feb 28, 2015

Photo credit Martin Bazyl

TORONTO (CIS) – The No. 2 Alberta Pandas overcame a two-set deficit to defeat the host Toronto Varsity Blues 3-2 (20-25, 23-25, 25-15, 25-18, 15-13) and set up an all Canada West final as Day 3 of the 2015 CIS women’s volleyball championship, presented by Canuck Stuff, wrapped up Saturday evening.

The Pandas are set to battle for their eighth national title and first since 2007, as they look to avenge their Canada West final loss to the Trinity Western Spartans. Trinity Western booked a ticket to their first-ever CIS final with a straight set victory over Montreal in the first semifinal of the day.

The gold-medal match is set for Sunday at 5 p.m., at U of T’s Goldring Centre for High Performance Sport.

“I think the team just never stopped believing that we could do it,” said Laurie Eisler, in her 23rd season as Alberta’s head coach. “Toronto played unbelievably well. We couldn’t match the level they were playing in the first couple of sets. We just knew that if we could find our rhythm, and maybe hope a little bit that they brought their level down, that we’d have a chance. Finally we got into that rhythm in the second set and carried that over to the third.”

Fifth-year Pandas middle Dione Lang of Killam, Alta., led all players with 24 points, notching 15 kills, a tournament-high eight blocks and five digs. Outside hitter Josephine Doerfler earned player of the match honours with a game-high 16 kills, while Meg Casault added 13 kills and 18 digs.

Libero Jessie Niles recorded 28 digs, with Mariah Walsh tallying 39 assists and eight digs in the victory.

“I think Josie’s leadership and her performance was great,” added Eisler. “She was fearless in every aspect of the game and really was the glue that kept the team together when it was going really tough. Dione with some of those blocks; I mean that helped a lot, and maybe put a little bit of fear in the outside hitters for Toronto because they lit us up in those first two sets.”

Third-year left side hitter Caleigh Cruickshank topped Toronto with 14 kills, two aces, two blocks and seven digs, with CIS all-Canadian Charlotte Sider adding 13 kills and 20 digs.

Sophomore middle Tessa Davis notched 11 kills and 11 digs, while setter Madelyn Mandryk had 40 assists and 16 digs. Libero Denise Wooding led U of T with 21 digs in the loss.

“We had difficulty managing our side, which is unfortunate because that’s something we’ve really worked on,” said U of T’s Kristine Drakich, who earned 2015 CIS coach of the year honours. “We say that the team that can manage their system the best is the team that is going to succeed. I think in three out of five, Alberta managed their system better than we managed our system.”

The OUA champion Blues will wrap up their season versus the RSEQ champion Montreal Carabins in the bronze medal match, set for 2 p.m. tomorrow.


Kills: Josephine Doerfler (16), Dione Lang (15), Meg Casault (13)
Points: Dione Lang (24), Josephine Doerfler (19), Meg Casault (15)
Blocks: Dione Lang (8)
Digs: Jessie Niles (28)
Service aces: Kacey Otto (2), Josephine Doerfler (2), Jessica Stroud (2)

Player of the match: Josephine Doerfler

Kills: Caleigh Cruickshank (14), Charlotte Sider (13), Tessa Davis (11)
Points: Caleigh Cruickshank (18), Charlotte Sider (14), Tessa Davis (12)
Blocks: Bojana Radan (3)
Digs: Denise Wooding (21)
Service aces: Caleigh Cruickshank (2)

Player of the match: Jen Neilson


Thursday, February 26
13:00 Quarter-final #1: No. 4 Montreal 3, No. 5 UBC 0 (25-22, 25-18, 25-16)
15:00 Quarter-final #2: No. 1 Trinity Western 3, No. 8 Laval 2 (24-26, 24-26, 25-15, 25-16, 15-8)
18:00 Quarter-final #3: No. 3 Toronto 3, No. 6 Dalhousie 0 (25-10, 25-19, 25-6)
20:00 Quarter-final #4: No. 2 Alberta 3, No. 7 Ottawa 0 (25-23, 25-21, 25-18)

Friday, February 27
11:30 Consolation #1: UBC 3, Laval 0 (25-12, 25-21, 33-31)
13:30 Consolation #2: Ottawa 3, Dalhousie 0 (25-11, 25-20, 25-21)

Saturday, February 28
14:00 Semifinal #1: Trinity Western 3, Montreal 0 (25-21, 25-23, 25-18)
16:00 Semifinal #2: Alberta 3, Toronto 2 (20-25, 23-25, 25-15, 25-18, 15-13)

Sunday, March 1
11:30 5th place: Ottawa vs UBC (www.CIS-SIC.tv)
14:00 Bronze medal: Montreal vs Toronto (www.CIS-SIC.tv)
17:00 Championship final: Alberta vs Trinity Western (www.CIS-SIC.tv)