2014 CIS men’s volleyball championship

Canadian Interuniversity Sport - February 26, 2014

The Tigers men's volleyball team will be competing in the CIS men's volleyball championship this weekend (Feb 27- Mar 1).

OTTAWA (CIS) – The Laval Rouge et Or hope to repeat as CIS men’s volleyball champions for the first time in program history later this week when the top eight teams in the country gather in Calgary for the 2014 national tournament.

CHAMPIONSHIP WEBSITE: http://english.cis-sic.ca/championships/mvball/index

The three-day competition gets under way Thursday at the U of C’s Jack Simpson Gymnasium. All 11 matches will be webcast live on www.CIS-SIC.tv, including the Tantramar Trophy final Saturday at 6 p.m. Mountain Time. 

The Alberta Golden Bears (Canada West champions) head into the tourney as the top seed, followed by the No. 2 McMaster Marauders (OUA champs), No. 3 Trinity Western Spartans (Canada West finalists), No. 4 Dalhousie Tigers (AUS champs), No. 5 Laval (RSEQ champs), No. 6 Western Mustangs (OUA finalists), No. 7 Calgary Dinos (hosts) and No. 8 Montreal Carabins (RSEQ finalists).

Alberta is the fifth different team in as many years to earn No. 1 status for the championship, following Brandon (2013), Trinity Western (2012), Calgary (2011) and Laval (2010).

A year ago, in front of their home fans in Quebec City, the Rouge et Or also entered the competition as the fifth seed but went on to defeat Alberta, top-ranked Brandon and McMaster to claim their first Tantramar Trophy since 1994 – and the fourth in team history. Their triumph put an end to 18 years of Canada West domination in CIS men’s volleyball.

Laval, which was also crowned in 1990 and 1992, opens its title defence against Dalhousie in the championship opener, Thursday at 12:30 p.m. MT. The other quarter-finals will see Alberta battle Montreal at 2:30 p.m., followed by Trinity Western vs. Western at 6 p.m. and McMaster vs. host Calgary at 8 p.m.

The Rouge et Or and Tigers are familiar foes, having faced each other three times already this season in RSEQ-AUS interlock action. Dalhousie took two of the three meetings, including a five-set win in the most recent duel on January 18.

After losing a number of key players from its 2012-13 roster, including CIS championship MVP Jérémie Lortie and all-Canadian left side Frédéric Mondou, Laval got off to a slow start this year and showed an uncharacteristic, sub-par 3-5 overall record at the end of October. The defending champs rebounded nicely however and have since racked up 18 wins in 19 outings, including a sweep of Montreal in the best-of-three RSEQ final.

Dalhousie, which missed last year’s national championship after falling to UNB in the Maritimes, beat its Fredericton rivals in two straight this time around to reclaim the AUS title.

“It’s an honour to once again represent our university on the national stage and to get the chance to defend our title. With over half of our roster being new this year, we have quite a challenge in front of us,” says Laval head coach Pascal Clément, whose program is making its 17th straight appearance at the competition.

“When I think back on where our team was at the end of last season, it’s amazing when I consider the tremendous strides they have made since then,” says Dalhousie bench boss Dan Ota. “Our team has been able to pull out some wins over some tough teams, most recently over an experienced and physical UNB squad in our conference championships. We’ve also had a few tough losses along the way, but I think that we’ve been able to learn from all of our matches over the season.”

The Alberta-Montreal quarter-final pits the most decorated team at this week’s tournament against a program that hasn’t advanced past the first round at the event since 1993.

While the Golden Bears have captured six Tantramar Trophies in their storied history, they have claimed only one CIS medal – bronze in 2010 - since their most recent triumph in 2009 and have lost in the opening round in each of the past three years.

This season, Alberta settled for third place in Canada West in league play with a 15-7 record but went 4-0 in the playoffs, including an impressive straight-set win over Trinity Western in Saturday’s conference final, on the Spartans’ home court.

For its part, Montreal travels to Calgary with a modest 10-17 overall mark versus CIS opponents in ’13-14.

“This season in Canada West was a battle for all teams from start to finish,” says long-time Alberta coach Terry Danyluk, whose troops will compete on the national stage for the 14th consecutive winter and dominated Montreal 25-11, 25-12 and 25-19 in last year’s consolation round. “I feel we have had to play a lot of tough matches on this road to Calgary that can only help to have us as ready for the Final 8.”

“We head to Calgary to play our best volleyball. We have no inferiority complex,” says Montreal mentor Georges Laplante. “I think we’ve played pretty well so far this season. In the second match of the RSEQ final, we pushed Laval to five sets even though we were missing one of our best attacker and blocker (Mikaël Dagenais).”

In Thursday’s third contest, Trinity Western and Western will battle in the opening round of the CIS tourney for the second straight year. Last winter in Quebec City, the Mustangs stunned the Spartans – then two-time defending champions – in five sets of 26-28, 23-25, 31-29, 27-25 and 15-9.

Both teams arrive in Calgary having lost in their conference final, TWU in straight sets to Alberta and Western 3-1 against McMaster.

“The formulas are simple to qualify for nationals,” says Spartans coach Ben Josephson. “Protect home court and split on the road equals a home playoff date. Win two out of three in the first round of the playoffs and grind out a conference semifinal win to earn a berth to nationals.

“But while the formulas are simple, the execution is not. To be one of the eight teams that had good math this year makes us proud. To win a championship has little to do with formulas. Playmaking, poise and passion are more important and we hope to display all three this week.”

“We’re looking forward to competing against the best of Canada. The tournament should be very exciting for all,” says Western’s Jim Sage.

The McMaster-Calgary nightcap will be the third confrontation this season between the Marauders and Dinos. McMaster overcame a two-set deficit on Oct. 18 to win in five in the Jack Simpson Gym (Dino Cup) and prevailed once again on Jan. 4 in Florida (Alden Cup), that time in straight sets.

One year removed from their first-ever trip to the CIS final, the Marauders hope to finally capture their first Tantramar Trophy. They have been arguably the most consistent team in the country this season, posting a 26-3 overall mark against CIS rivals and topping eight of 14 weekly national polls over the course of the campaign.  

The Dinos, in contrast, have enjoyed an up-and-down regular season, settling for sixth place in the Canada West standings with a .500 record, before being swept by archrival Alberta in the best-of-three league quarter-finals.

“We are looking forward to this event as Calgary always does a great job of hosting. It will be a fantastic experience for our student-athletes,” says Dave Preston, in his 11th season on the McMaster sidelines.

“It’s a great honour to host the CIS championship,” says Dinos coach Rod Durrant, who led his squad to the 2010 national title, the fourth in program history. “Our staff, organizing committee, alumni and volleyball community are excited to host the top teams in the country this week, and I know our team is ready for the opportunity in front of them.”

PARTICIPATING TEAMS (all times MOUNTAIN TIME)

No. 1 Alberta Golden Bears

Head Coach: Terry Danyluk (21st season)

Regular season record: 15-7

Regular season standing: 3rd Canada West

Playoff record: 4-0

Playoff finish: Canada West champions

Overall record vs. CIS teams: 27-8

Top 10 final ranking (Feb. 11): No. 3  

Top 10 best ranking: No. 1 (4 weeks: First 4 polls)

Top 10 number of weeks ranked (14 polls): 14

Conference award winners: None

Conference 1st team all-stars: Ryley Barnes (LS)

Conference 2nd team all-stars: None

CIS championship best result: 6-time champions (2009, 2008, 2005, 2002, 1997, 1981)

CIS championship last appearance: 2013 (5th place)

CIS championship sequence: 14th consecutive appearance (21st in 22 years – missed 2000)

No. 2 McMaster Marauders

Head Coach: Dave Preston (11th season)

Regular season record: 19-1

Regular season standing: 1st OUA

Playoff record: 2-0

Playoff finish: OUA champions

Overall record vs. CIS teams: 26-3

Final Top 10 ranking (Feb. 11): No. 1

Best Top 10 ranking: No. 1 (8 weeks)

Number of weeks in Top 10 (14 polls): 14

Conference award winners: Jori Mantha (MVP)

Conference 1st team all-stars: Jori Mantha (OH), Austin Campion-Smith (S)

Conference 2nd team all-stars: Danny Demyanenko (M), Jayson McCarthy (OH)

CIS championship best result: Finalists (2013)

CIS championship last appearance: 2013 (finalists)

CIS championship sequence: 2nd consecutive appearance (7th in 9 years)

No. 3 Trinity Western Spartans

Head Coach: Ben Josephson (7th season)

Regular season record: 20-2

Regular season standing: 1st Canada West

Playoff record: 1-1

Playoff finish: Canada West finalists

Overall record vs. CIS teams: 30-7

Final Top 10 ranking (Feb. 11): No. 2

Best Top 10 ranking: No. 1 (3 weeks)

Number of weeks in Top 10 (14 polls): 14

Conference award winners: Adam Schriemer (rookie), Ben Josephson (coach)

Conference 1st team all-stars: Nick Del Bianco (OH), Lucas Van Berkel (M)

Conference 2nd team all-stars: None

CIS championship best result: 3-time champions (2012, 2011, 2006)

CIS championship last appearance: 2013 (6th place)

CIS championship sequence: 5th consecutive appearance (9th in 11 years)

No. 4 Dalhousie Tigers

Head Coach: Dan Ota (15th season)

Regular season record: 13-4

Regular season standing: 1st AUS

Playoff record: 2-0

Playoff finish: AUS champions

Overall record vs. CIS teams: 16-6

Top 10 final ranking (Feb. 11): Unranked  

Top 10 best ranking: No. 8 (4 weeks)

Top 10 number of weeks ranked (14 polls): 4

Conference award winners: Matthew Donovan (rookie), Dan Ota (coach)

Conference 1st team all-stars: Jonathan MacDonald (S), Connor Maessen (M), Kristen O’Brien (OH)

Conference 2nd team all-stars: No second team in AUS

CIS championship best result: Finalists (1997)

CIS championship last appearance: 2012 (tied 7th place)

CIS championship sequence: Return after 1-year absence (33rd appearance in 35 years)

No. 5 Laval Rouge et Or

Head Coach: Pascal Clément (22nd season)

Regular season record: 14-3

Regular season standing: 1st RSEQ

Playoff record: 2-0

Playoff finish: RSEQ champions

Overall record vs. CIS teams: 21-6

Top 10 final ranking (Feb. 11): No. 5  

Top 10 best ranking: No. 4 (1 week: First poll)

Top 10 number of weeks ranked (14 polls): 13

Conference award winners: Tommy Bélisle (MVP), Vincent Thibault-Bernier (libero), Marc-André Morency (rookie), Pascal Clément (coach), Olivier Jannini (student-athlete & community service)

Conference 1st team all-stars: Tommy Bélisle (RS), Olivier Jannini (OH),Vincent Thibault-Bernier (LIB)

Conference 2nd team all-stars: No second team in RSEQ

CIS championship best result: 4-time champions (2013, 1994, 1992, 1990)

CIS championship last appearance: 2013 (champions)

CIS championship sequence: 17th consecutive appearance (31st in 33 years – missed 1997, 1993)

No. 6 Western Mustangs

Head Coach: Jim Sage (17th season)

Regular season record: 17-3

Regular season standing: 2nd OUA

Playoff record: 1-1

Playoff finish: OUA finalists

Overall record vs. CIS teams: 22-9

Final Top 10 ranking (Feb. 11): No. 8

Best Top 10 ranking: No. 8 (1 week)

Number of weeks in Top 10 (14 polls): 7

Conference award winners: None

Conference 1st team all-stars: Garrett May (LS), Phil James (M)

Conference 2nd team all-stars: Sean McKay (S)

CIS championship best result: Info not available

CIS championship last appearance: 2013 (4th place)

CIS championship sequence: 3rd straight appearance

No. 7 Calgary Dinos

Head Coach: Rod Durrant (8th season)

Regular season record: 11-11

Regular season standing: 6th Canada West

Playoff record: 0-2

Playoff finish: Canada West quarter-finals

Overall record vs. CIS teams: 13-22

Final Top 10 ranking (Feb. 11): Unranked

Best Top 10 ranking: No. 10 (1 week)

Number of weeks in Top 10 (14 polls): 1

Conference award winners: None

Conference 1st team all-stars: None

Conference 2nd team all-stars: Greg Mann (OH)

CIS championship best result: 4-time champions (2010, 1993, 1989, 1982)

CIS championship last appearance: 2012 (5th place)

CIS championship sequence: Return after 1-year absence (4th appearance in 5 years)

No. 8 Montreal Carabins

Head Coach: Georges Laplante (20th season)

Regular season record: 6-11

Regular season standing: 3rd RSEQ

Playoff record: 2-2

Playoff finish: RSEQ finalists

Overall record vs. CIS teams: 10-17

Top 10 final ranking (Feb. 11): Unranked  

Top 10 best ranking: Unranked all season

Top 10 number of weeks ranked (14 polls): 0

Conference award winners: None

Conference 1st team all-stars: Samuel Landry (M), Mikaël Dagenais (M)

Conference 2nd team all-stars: No second team in RSEQ

CIS championship best result: 1-time champions (1970)

CIS championship last appearance: 2013 (tied 7th place)

CIS championship sequence: 2nd consecutive appearance

CHAMPIONSHIP SCHEDULE

Wednesday, February 26

8:00 All-Canadian Awards Breakfast (Best Western Village Park Inn)

Thursday, February 27

12:30 Quarter-final #1: No. 4 Dalhousie vs. No. 5 Laval (www.CIS-SIC.tv)

14:30 Quarter-final #2: No. 1 Alberta vs. No. 8 Montreal (www.CIS-SIC.tv)

18:00 Quarter-final #3: No. 3 Trinity Western vs. No. 6 Western (www.CIS-SIC.tv)

20:00 Quarter-final #4: No. 2 McMaster vs. No. 7 Calgary (www.CIS-SIC.tv)

Friday, February 28

12:30 Consolation #1: Loser QF #1 vs. Loser QF #2 (www.CIS-SIC.tv)  

14:30 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, March 1

13:00 5th place (www.CIS-SIC.tv)  

15:00 Bronze medal (www.CIS-SIC.tv

18:00 Championship final (www.CIS-SIC.tv)  


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