BURLINGTON, Ont. - Ontario University Athletics (OUA) volleyball returns to the court on Friday, October 28, highlighted on the women's side by an OUA championship rematch between the crosstown rival Ryerson Rams and the 2015-16 CIS champion University of Toronto Varsity Blues. This will be the first time the Blues will take to their home court at the Goldring Centre for High Performance Sport since they captured their first CIS championship in program history.
In Hamilton, Ont., the four-time defending OUA men's volleyball champion McMaster Marauders will open the season against the rival Guelph Gryphons. Last season, the Marauders finished the regular season with an 18-2 regular season before capturing their program's eighth Forsyth Memorial Trophy.
New for 2016-17 season, men's and women's OUA volleyball will be divided into two divisions, East and West. The East Division will consist of the following teams: York, Nipissing, Queen's, RMC, Ryerson, Toronto and Trent. The West Division will consist of the following teams: Guelph, McMaster, Brock, Waterloo, Western, Windsor and Lakehead (women's team only).
Each team will play a home-and-home series within the division, as well as single games against the other division on a rotational basis. On the men's side, each team in the East Division will play a total of 18 games and the West Division will play 17 games. OUA women's volleyball teams will play a total of 19 games.
A full slate of men's and women's games are schedule for the following weekend, with every team in action November 4-5. On the women's side, the Guelph Gryphons and Western Mustangs will clash in a West division showdown, while in the East, the Ryerson Rams and Queen's Gaels will meet in a rematch of their OUA quarter-final game from a season ago.
Peterborough, Ont. will be abuzz on November 4, as the Trent Excalibur men's and women's volleyball teams will make their home OUA debut against the powerhouse McMaster Marauders. The Excalibur, who have been competing in the Ontario College Athletic Association (OCAA) for the past 12 seasons, will open the season on the road the previous week against the Queen's Gaels.
Waterloo's Physical Activities Complex (PAC) will be rocking Nov. 10 as the Warrior's men's team host Guelph at 11:00 for a school day showdown against the visiting Gryphons. The Warriors will look to use the home crowd to their advantage as thousands of local children will pack the PAC Thursday morning.
On November 11, the Brock Badgers will end a 15-year hiatus as the men's volleyball team will return to the court on the road against the previously mentioned Excalibur. Head coach Doug Hanes has been tasked with leading the team, which will make their home debut on Friday, November 25 against the Gryphons. The University previously had a men's volleyball team from 1978-79 until it was phased out after the 2000-01 season.
The season will break at the end of the fall semester on November 27 with three final games including: Trent men and women travelling to Toronto, Ont. to take on the Varsity Blues, Queen's heading north to visit the Nipissing Lakers and the RMC Paladins heading down the 401 to visit the York Lions.
After the holiday break, action resumes January 14 with several doubleheaders including: Waterloo's men's and women's squads hosting the visiting Badgers, the Marauders and Gryphons renewing hostilities in "The Royal City," and the Rams travelling to York's Tait McKenzie Centre to take on the Lions.
The regular season wraps up on the weekend of February 24-25 as teams battle for playoff seeding heading into the postseason.
Additional games highlighting the men's schedule include:
- After finishing the regular season fourth, just two points behind their rivals from Ryerson, the Varsity Blues would like nothing more than to upset the Rams to open the season on October 28.
- Just two points separated the Gaels and Rams in the standings last year and two teams will meet for the first time this season on November 4 at the Athletics and Recreation Centre (ARC) in Kingston, Ont.
- The Warriors will welcome the Gaels to the not-so-friendly confines of the Physical Activities Complex (PAC) on the campus of the University of Waterloo on November 18 for a bronze medal rematch. Queen's will be looking to avenge a five-set thriller loss at last season's OUA Final Four.
Additional games highlighting the women's schedule include:
- Lancers fans won't have to wait long for a pivotal West division matchup as Windsor will host the Gryphons on Saturday, November 5 at the St. Denis Centre. The two teams split their regular season meetings a season ago, with each side picking up 3-0 straight sets victories at home.
- The Mustangs and Marauders finished the 2015-16 season tied atop the West division with matching 16-3 regular season records. However, it was Western who was victorious in their bronze medal match, prevailing 3-2 in a five-set thriller. The rematch goes Saturday, November 26 at Western's Alumni Hall.
- Perennial powerhouses McMaster and Toronto will meet Saturday, February 4 at the Goldring Centre for High Performance Sport. Toronto only dropped four sets in the regular season and playoffs, with one of those coming against the Marauders in the semifinals.
Playoffs in both the men's and women's leagues are set to begin with quarter-final games on March 4 followed by the OUA Final Four tournaments the following weekend.
The top four teams from each division will qualify for the postseason with the OUA Final Four being hosted by the highest remaining seed following the quarter-finals.
Semifinal action will take place on Friday, March 10 followed by the gold and bronze medal matches on Saturday, March 11.
The OUA champion in both leagues will qualify for the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) national championship March 17-19.
The CIS men's volleyball championship will be hosted by the University of Alberta while Ryerson University hosts the CIS women's volleyball championship. Since the Rams will receive an automatic entry into the women's event, additional OUA teams could receive a berth based on playoff performance.