Tigers Weekend Recap (Feb 27 ‑ Mar 2)
Duncan Forbes - March 3, 2014
History was made this weekend as the sixth-seeded Tigers became the first AUS team in 30 years to make the semifinal round at the CIS championship as they played their way to a fourth place finish in the country. The last team to make a semifinal was the Tigers, who in 1984 claimed a silver medal.
They kicked things off by knocking off No. 3 Trinity Western Spartans 3-1 on Friday, upsetting the Spartans in dominant fashion. They split the first two sets, but the Tigers took over in the final two sets, winning 25-19 and 25-23. First year sensation Desiree Nouwen led the Tigers with 15 kills, 15.0 points and 13 digs, while Tara Gowan was an imposing defensive presence all game long with six blocks.
The Tigers then moved on to face the No. 2 Manitoba Bisons in the semifinal, and the Cinderella story was cut short as the Bisons held off the Tigers to win 3-0 (25-22, 25-13, 25-21). Nouwen again led the charge for the Tigers with 17 kills and 17.5 points, while veteran Katherine Ryan chipped in with 13 digs.
The loss put the Tigers in the bronze medal game, where they faced the No. 4 Laval Rouge et Or. After picking up a crucial 25-23 victory in the first set, the Tigers couldn’t keep up the momentum and Laval took the next three sets to win 3-1. CIS first team all-star Maggie Li and Nouwen combined for 36 kills, while Ryan and Marisa Mota both had monster games with 28 and 21 digs, respectively.
Nouwen was named to the CIS championship all-star team, while Ryan received the prestigious R.W. Pugh Fair Play Award.
Entering the CIS championship as the fourth seed, the Tigers title dreams were cut short as they fell to the No. 5 Laval Rouge et Or in their quarter-final match 3-0. The Tigers just couldn’t get things going against the reigning champions, with no player registering double digit kills. Bryan Duquette and Kristen O’Brien each had seven kills and five digs to pace the Tigers, while Glenn Lassaline added ten digs to his name.
The Tigers then faced the Montreal Carabins on day two of the competition, and they came out on top of a marathon five-set game, defeating Montreal for the fourth time this year. The Tigers won the first set before falling to the Carabins in the next two, but won the final and deciding sets 25-23 and 15-13 to secure the win against their RSEQ foes.
Kristen O’Brien had a team-high 18 kills and Logan Baillie had 11 digs to lead the Tigers in the win.
The win put the Tigers in the fifth-place game on Sunday against the No. 3 Trinity Western Spartans. The Tigers again won the first set, but couldn’t keep up their strong play as they dropped the next three sets as they went on to lose 3-1. O’Brien again led the Tigers with 13 kills and 14.5 points.
Despite the results, head coach Dan Ota believes the experience for the team was invaluable.
“Our guys were fighting through it, but unfortunately we were unable to execute the basics of the game today and it haunted us on Thursday as well. Regardless it was a good season and I'm glad our guys had this opportunity. It's a tough tournament to win and it's been a real positive experience even though our guys didn't play their best today.”
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