TORONTO (U SPORTS) – The Trinity Western Spartans head to Edmonton as the favourites to defend their U SPORTS Men's Volleyball title, while the Alberta Pandas hope to end a decade long drought for the women's national banner in Toronto
The volleyball tournaments both get underway Friday – from the Saville Community Sports Centre and the Mattamy Athletic Centre – and conclude Sunday, with the women's final at 4 p.m. ET and the men's championship at 6 p.m. MT (8 p.m. ET)
All games from both competitions will be webcast on USPORTS.LIVE.
2017 U SPORTS FOG Men's Volleyball Championship
(Saville Community Sports Centre, University of Alberta)
In search of their fifth Tantramar Trophy overall and fourth in the last seven seasons, the No.1 Spartans (Canada West champions) will be joined in Edmonton by the No.2 Manitoba Bisons (Canada West finalists), No.3 UBC Thunderbirds (Canada West bronze medalists), No.4 Laval Rouge et Or (RSEQ champions), No.5 McMaster Marauders (OUA champions), No.6 UNB Varsity Reds (AUS Champions), No.7 Alberta Golden Bears (Canada West 4th place/hosts) and No.8 Waterloo Warriors (OUA finalists).
Five of the eight teams have their name etched on this week's prize, led by Manitoba (10), Alberta (8), followed by Trinity Western (4), Laval (4), and UBC (3).
No.5 McMaster Marauders (OUA champions)
2016 result: Silver
Kills per set: Brandon Koppers (3.08)
Blocks per set: Danny Demyanenko (0.98)
Assists per set: Andrew Kocur (7.61)
Digs per set: Andrew Richards (2.09)
No.8 Waterloo Warriors (OUA finalists)
2016 result: Lost consolation semifinal
Kills per set: Braden Cok (3.41)
Blocks per set: Jordan McConkey (1.02)
Assists per set: Nikola Dimitrijevic (8.98)
Digs per set: Aidan Simone (1.61)
It was business as usual for McMaster (17-0), who captured a fifth straight OUA Championship with a 3-0 triumph over Waterloo (9-8) on its home floor. The Marauders rolled through the competition en route to their eighth title in the last decade, with a trio of straight-set victories, including wins over Queen's in the quarter-finals and Ryerson in the semis. The Warriors took the OUA silver following the loss, after triumphs against York and Guelph.
"I like where our team is at right now," McMaster head coach Dave Preston. "I like the way we're playing and I like our style and attention to detail. I like how we're playing when we have a lead and how we're playing when we don't.
"We've got some pieces in our bullpen that we've either chosen or not had to use yet. We've got depth in all of the spots that we want our depth in, and we worked hard at putting that depth in place."
"I'm very proud of the way our guys have battled and stepped up in the postseason," said Waterloo head coach Shayne White. "We experienced some growing pains throughout the regular season with a mix of veterans and rookies but we have come together as a group at the right time and are playing some great volleyball heading into Edmonton. It's important to our program and our growth to keep getting to Nationals and see the best teams compete at the highest levels. We need these comparisons to understand the standards of excellence for our next maturity. We believe we are getting closer every year."
Canada West representatives
No.1 Trinity Western Spartans (Canada West champions)
National titles: 2006, 2011, 2012, 2015
2016 result: Gold
Kills per set: Ryan Sclater (4.29)
Blocks per set: Aaron Boettcher (1.21)
Assists per set: Adam Schriemer (10.28)
Digs per set: Carter Bergen (1.98)
No.2 Manitoba Bisons (Canada West finalists)
National titles: 1978, 1980, 1984, 1985, 1991, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2003
Last appearance: 2012
Kills per set: Devren Dear (3.96)
Blocks per set: Ken Rooney (1.01)
Assists per set: Luke Herr (9.88)
Digs per set: Kevin Falconer (1.65)
No.3 UBC Thunderbirds (Canada West bronze medalists)
National titles: 1967, 1976, 1983
Last appearance: 2008
Kills per set: Irvan Brar (3.27)
Blocks per set: Joel Regehr (0.88)
Assists per set: Byron Keturakis (9.46)
Digs per set: Tyson Smith (1.97)
No.7 Alberta Golden Bears (Canada West 4th place/ Hosts)
National titles: 1981, 1997, 2002, 2005, 2008, 2009, 2014, 2015
2016 result: Bronze
Kills per set: Ryan Nickifor (3.94)
Blocks per set: Taylor Arnett (1.01)
Assists per set: Brett Walsh (10.48)
Digs per set: Reed May (1.87)
The defending U SPORTS champion Spartans (21-3 regular season) earned No.1 status by knocking off Manitoba (21-3) in a five-set thriller on the Bisons' home court, earning the team's second consecutive Canada West title and fourth overall. The two teams occupied the No.1 ranking in 12 of 16 coaches' polls this season. Trinity Western had previously defeated Alberta in the semifinal in another hard-fought 3-2 victory, with the Golden Bears going on to lose the bronze medal match to UBC in three straight sets.
"This past weekend had a lot of emotion and a lot of intensity and I think we learned a lot about ourselves as a team," said Trinity Western head coach Ben Josephson. "We knew we were talented, but we weren't sure how tough this team was going to be because most of the season was pretty smooth and we weren't really pushed a lot. But we really got pushed this weekend and I was very pleased to see how tough this group is and how resilient they are under pressure and how much depth we have. So I think we are ready for this tournament.
"It's been a great season as we continue to take steps forward," said Manitoba head coach Garth Pischke. "We have one more step to go and that is nationals. (We are looking forward to the challenge!"
"This has been an incredible season of learning of growth for our team," said UBC head coach Kerry MacDonald. "We have played more five-set matches than any other Canada West Team and I really feel that has helped us to refine our processes. For nationals, we will simply be looking to take this approach to the first match in what will surely be a battle against a strong UNB team."
"This season has been another incredible year of competition in a very competitive and demanding conference," said Alberta head coach Terry Danyluk. "It's an honour to compete at any time, to have the chance to play, and to challenge yourselves against the best in a nation every weekend. We are excited to prepare and to represent Canada West and the University of Alberta by hosting the 2017 U SPORTS FOG Men's Volleyball Championship here in Edmonton."
No.4 Laval Rouge et Or (RSEQ)
National titles: 1990, 1992, 1994, 2013
2016 result: 5th
Kills per set: Vicente Ignacio Parraguirre Villalobos (5.55)
Blocks per set: Hugo Léger (0.95)
Assists per set: Ethan Ellison (9.64)
Digs per set: Vincent Thibault-Bernier (3.55)
Laval (15-2) was once again the class of Quebec this season, continuing their dozen-year run atop the RSEQ with a 3-0 straight sets victory over Montreal in Game 3 of the conference championship. The win game after a pair of 3-2 wins over the Carabins, who pushed the Rouge et or to the limit.
"It's another participation at the U SPORTS Championship for us, against a high-quality program, which is surely going to give a great battle," said Laval head coach Pascal Clément of the impending match against McMaster. "The Marauders are well-coached with many all-star players, so it will likely going to be a big challenge. We had to work hard against Montreal to obtain our ticket to the nationals, and this adversity that we encountered allowed us to have a preview of what's awaiting us in Edmonton."
No.6 UNB Varsity Reds (AUS Champions)
2016 result: 6th
Kills per set: Eivind Andersen (3.63)
Blocks per set: Brad Stewart (0.83)
Assists per set: Kent Doucette (6.26)
Digs per set: Eivind Andersen (2.29)
UNB (11-6) outscored Dalhousie six sets to one in the AUS Championship series, clinching its second straight conference banner with a 3-1 win on Saturday. With the victory, the Varsity Reds avenged a poor season series against the Tigers, after losing three of four head-to-head matches this season.
"This will be our first back-to-back appearance at these championships since 1979," UNB head coach Dan McMorran. "We are hoping we can continue the momentum we've built up in the second half, as we know we'll have to be at our best throughout the weekend."
SCHEDULE & RESULTS (All times MT)
Thursday, March 16
8:00 a.m. 2017 U SPORTS Men's Volleyball All-Canadian Awards
Friday, March 17
1:00 p.m. Quarter-final #1: No.1 Trinity Western vs. No. 8 Waterloo (USPORTS.LIVE)
2:30 p.m. Quarter-final #2: No.4 Laval vs. No.5 McMaster (USPORTS.LIVE)
6:30 p.m. Quarter-final #3: No.2 Manitoba vs. No. 7 Alberta (USPORTS.LIVE)
8:00 p.m. Quarter-final #4: No.3 UBC vs No.6 UNB (USPORTS.LIVE)
Saturday, March 18
1:00 p.m. Consolation #1: Loser QF #1 vs. Loser QF #2 (USPORTS.LIVE)
2:30 p.m. Consolation #2: Loser QF #3 vs. Loser QF #4 (USPORTS.LIVE)
6:30 p.m. Semifinal #1: Winner QF #3 vs. Winner QF #4(USPORTS.LIVE)
8:00 p.m. Semifinal #2: Winner QF #1 vs. Winner QF #2 (USPORTS.LIVE)