The host Laval Rouge et Or will have the chance to play one last time in front of their home fans, following a 3-1 (25-16, 17-25, 27-25, 25-20) win on Saturday against the UBC Okanagan Heat in the consolation semifinal at the U SPORTS Women’s Volleyball Championship presented by Hotel Universel Quebec.
Back in the nationals for the first time in three years, Laval will advance to the fifth-place game on Sunday at 11 a.m. ET / 8 a.m. PT against an opponent they know well – the RSEQ champion Montréal Carabins. As for the Heat, today’s loss ends their season, and the Canada West semi-inalists will leave Quebec with a seventh-place finish.
“We really played a good match with a lot of intensity. It was really impressive at this level. On the other side, too, they fought. They had the advantage sometimes at the net, being bigger and taller than us. But the rest of the time, we defended well and played tactically,” said the Rouge et Or’s Olivier Caron.
The Laval bench boss is used to his team’s resilience.
“It’s what we’ve done all year. Each time we had a mediocre performance, the next day the girls recovered. It’s a strength of our group,” he said, referring to Friday’s three-set loss to Calgary, including dropping the final set 25-11. “In our team, we don’t have any all-Canadians. Our all-star, it’s the group of 14 girls. That’s our strength. We don’t depend on one girl in particular. Everybody has to perform to their level.”
On the UBC Okanagan side, head coach Steve Manuel paid tribute to their opponents.
“Laval is so precise and so disciplined. You really can’t afford to give anything and if you do a loss is the outcome. We made too many errors, too many at the wrong time. We had some chances in the third set but we missed six serves in a row.”
Manuel believes, however, that his team will take a lot from this week at nationals.
“We are still building a program. We are a relatively new volleyball program to U SPORTS but it’s already our second trip to nationals. What I hope is that we learned something from this week and understand what it takes to be a little bit better among the top eight teams in the country so we can be a little bit more ready with this group when we return.”
The Montreal – Laval rivalry will resume on Sunday at 11 a.m. ET/8 a.m. PT in the consolation final. The Carabins defeated the Rouge et Or in the RSEQ championship. On the question of vengeance, it was more the last career match for his veterans that preoccupied Caron.
“We have to expect a game with a great deal of emotion. There are three seniors on the other side who want to beat us for their last university match. It’s the same thing for us. Our seniors want to play their last high-level match. It’s going to be fun!”
The player of the game for the Rouge et Or, Alex Béraud, made seven kills, three aces two solo blocks and two block assists for a total of 13 points. For the Heat, the honour went to setter Sara McCreary, who made 38 assists as well as two aces.
Players of the Game
- Laval Rouge et Or: Alex Béraud
- UBC Okanagan Heat: Sara McCreary