Championships Women’s Volleyball

Women’s Volleyball

Women’s Volleyball Championship presented by Hôtel Universel Québec Preview: Calgary earns No.1 seed ahead of national tournament

U SPORTS Staff

The Calgary Dinos have been named women’s volleyball tournament favourites in the lead-up to an action-packed weekend of #CHAMPSZN.

On the ice, the 2018 U SPORTS Cavendish Farms University Cup will be hosted by the UNB Varsity Reds while the Western Mustangs welcome the 2018 U SPORTS Women’s Hockey Championship. On the court, the TELUS 2018 SPORTS Men’s Volleyball Championship will be hosted by the McMaster Marauders, while the Laval Rouge et Or will organize the 2018 U SPORTS Women’s Volleyball Championship presented by Hôtel Universel Québec.

The 2018 U SPORTS Women’s Volleyball Championship presented by Hôtel Universel Québec kicks off on Friday at Amphithéâtre Desjardins-Université Laval in Quebec City and concludes next Sunday with the gold-medal final at 5 p.m. ET / 2 p.m. PT. All games will be livestreamed at USPORTS.LIVE.

A championship schedule and team-by-team previews are available below.

No. 1 Calgary Dinos

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  • Playoff finish: Canada West champions
  • Regular season / playoff records: 21-3 / 5-0
  • Last U SPORTS championship: 2004
  • Total U SPORTS championships: 4

Team leaders

  • Kills per set: Kate Pexman (3.90)
  • Blocks per set: Beth Vinnell (1.19)
  • Assists per set:  Leah Shevkenek (8.87)
  • Digs per set: Kennedy Snape (3.64)

The Canada West champion Calgary Dinos are set for their 20th U SPORTS Women’s Volleyball Championship.

Led by Canada West player of the year Kate Pexman, the Dinos posted one of the best seasons in program history, finishing 21-3 in Canada West and earning the top seed in the conference playoffs. A two-match sweep of Mount Royal punched their ticket to the national championship for the first time since 2009, and a two-match sweep of Alberta sent them on to the CW Final, where they beat UBC to capture their first CW title since 2005.

The team boasts veteran leadership and depth, with the fifth-year quartet of Laura McManes, Brianna Solberg, Jaylynn Moffatt, and Amber Adolf set to wrap up their U SPORTS careers in Quebec City as the Dinos search for their fifth national title and the first since 2004, when head coach Natalie Gurnsey was the team’s starting setter. Pexman and middle Beth Vinnell are the offensive leaders, but the Dinos can score in multiple ways and will defend aggressively.

No. 2 Montreal Carabins

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  • Playoff finish: RSEQ champions
  • Regular season / playoff records: 18-2 / 4-0
  • Last U SPORTS championship: Never

Team leaders

  • Kills per set: Marie-Alex Bélanger (3.98)
  • Blocks per set: Elinora Pentcheva (1.00)
  • Assists per set: Katia Forcier (9.42)
  • Digs per set: Stéphanie Lojen (2.64)

The Carabins continued to dominate the provincial scene with a fifth consecutive regular season title.

Montreal finished the year with an excellent 18-2 record. Several strong individual performances were recorded and rewarded with multiple honours. Marie-Alex Bélanger received the Player of the year award for a third year in a row, in addition to being named on the first All-Star team, joined by setter Katia Forcier.  Maude Babin was given the rookie of the year award and was named to the second All-Star team, while Olivier Trudel was crowned coach of the year.

No. 3 UBC Thunderbirds

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  • Playoff finish: Canada West finalists
  • Regular season / playoff records: 20-4 / 4-1
  • Last U SPORTS championship: 2017
  • Total U SPORTS championships: 11

Team leaders

  • Kills per set: Kiera Van Ryk (3.74)
  • Blocks per set: Ciara Hanly (1.03)
  • Assists per set: Alessandra Gentile (8.90)
  • Digs per set: Samantha Patko (3.46)

After winning their record 11th U SPORTS championship at Ryerson University, the UBC Thunderbirds are now in search of their eighth national banner in the last 11 years.

The T-Birds had another impressive regular season finishing with a 20-4 record in the country’s toughest conference, dropping only one match on home court. UBC entered the Canada West playoffs on a five-match win streak and proceeded to defeat sweep the Regina Cougars in the quarter-finals which clinched the ‘Birds their 11th straight berth at nationals.

UBC then dispatched the visiting UBC Okanagan Heat in two straight matches, dropping just a single set for the second straight series, to advance to the Canada West final for the second straight year.

The Thunderbirds have been led offensively by rookie Kiera Van Ryk, who was named Canada West Rookie of the Year, and fellow conference first team all-star Alessandra Gentile who led the Thunderbirds in kills and assists, respectively. Featuring a balanced attack, UBC finished the regular season third in the conference in hitting percentage (.220) while also playing solid team defence finishing second in digs per set (15.14).

No. 4 Ryerson Rams

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  • Playoff finish: OUA Champions
  • Regular season / playoff records: 19-0 / 3-0
  • Last U SPORTS championship: Never 

Team leaders

  • Kills per set: Lauren Veltman (3.45)
  • Blocks per set: Theanna Vernon (1.29)
  • Assists per set: Alicia Lam (9.32)
  • Digs per set: Julie Longman (4.09)

Led by OUA East Division Coach of the Year Dustin Reid, the Ryerson Rams completed a perfect season, going 19-0 to finish in top spot in the conference before capturing their first-ever championship on home court.

In the playoffs, the No. 1-ranked Rams swept the Waterloo Warriors 3-0 in quarter-finals, and beat the Western Mustangs 3-1 in the semifinal. Ryerson would cap the undefeated campaign and advance to their second national championship after playing host last season by taking down the defending champion McMaster Marauders in four sets. 

The historic year didn’t go unnoticed, with seven Rams players earning end of season OUA honours – highlighted by Dale Iwanoczko Award of Merit winner and fifth-year libero Julie Longman, who was also named to a First Team All-Star. Theanna Vernon and Cailin Wark were also named to the First Team, alongside Second Team honouree Lauren Veltman and All-Rookies Janelle Albert, Alicia Lam and Lindsay Kleuskens.

No. 5 UBC Okanagan Heat

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  • Playoff finish: Canada West semifinalists
  • Regular season / playoff records: 19-5 / 2-2
  • Last U SPORTS championship: Never

Team leaders

  • Kills per set: Michelle Jakszuk (2.80)
  • Blocks per set: Erin Drew (1.20)
  • Assists per set: Sara McCreary (10.22)
  • Digs per set: Sophia Furlan (2.60)

The Heat finished 19-5 in third place in Canada West and swept a best-of-three quarter-finals at home over the Manitoba Bisons, before falling in two straight to the UBC Thunderbirds in Vancouver in the Canada West semifinal.

UBCO ran off 11 straight wins, staying undefeated in 2018 until falling on the final game of the regular season, losing to Manitoba in four sets. During that run the Heat would climb to number one in the national rankings and stay there for three weeks (Jan. 30, Feb. 6, Feb. 13).

The team was fueled by a balanced offense with four players who finished with over 200 kills on the year. Fifth year outside hitter Michelle Jakszuk led the way with a career-high 225 during the regular season, while Siobhan Fitzpatrick another outside hitter swung for 244 kills. Middle Aidan Lea and outside hitter Ann Richards both went off for 226. Going back in the Canada West history books to the 2006-07 season, it was the first time that four teammates have each had over 225 kills in a season.

Middle Erin Drew also notched 159 kills and hit on nearly 40 per cent on her swings (.394). This balanced offence was run by second year setter Sara McCreary whose 10.22 assists per set was tops in the country.

No. 6 Dalhousie Tigers

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  • Playoff finish: AUS champions
  • Regular season / playoff records: 19-1 / 2-0
  • Last U SPORTS championship: 1982
  • Total U SPORTS championships: 1

Team Leaders

  • Kills per set: Julie Moore (3.68)
  • Blocks per set: Victoria Haworth (1.0)
  • Assists per set: Courtney Baker (9.36)
  • Digs per set: Catherine Callaghan (4.37)

The Dalhousie Tigers finished the regular season with a 19-1 record and went 2-0 in the conference championship to claim their sixth straight championship banner.

The Tigers opened their year with a 6-0 record in exhibition play before going 8-1 in the first half, losing just four sets in the months of October and November. During the holiday break, the Tigers headed to Alberta for a three-match exhibition tour and came away with a 2-1 record.

In the second half of the season, Dalhousie posted an 11-0 record to finish the regular season, dropping just six sets to their opponents.

In the AUS championship, the No. 1 ranked Tigers defeated the Memorial Sea-Hawks 3-0 in semifinal action before beating Acadia 3-2 to capture the title.

No. 7 Alberta Pandas

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  • Playoff finish: Canada West semifinalists
  • Regular season / playoff records: 15-9 / 2-3
  • Last U SPORTS Championship: 2007
  • Total U SPORTS Championships: 7

Team Leaders

  • Kills per set: Kory White (3.71)
  • Blocks per set: Shauny Hogg (1.01)
  • Assists per set: Eryn Orysiuk (9.92)
  • Digs per set:  Jenae Eisler (3.51)

While entering the season in somewhat of a rebuild after losing key pieces of last year’s Canada West champion, and U SPORTS silver-medal winning team, the Alberta Pandas were still one of the best teams in Canada West. With as many as four first-year Pandas in their starting lineup, Alberta finished fourth in Canada West with a 15-9 conference record, and were a mainstay inside the U SPORTS Top 10.

In search of their third national medal in four years, and their first national championship since 2007, the Pandas will be led by first-year Kory White, and veteran setter Eryn Orysiuk. White led the Pandas with 352 kills in her first season with the program, while Orysiuk, after spending a season as the team’s starting libero, transferred back to setter, breaking the conference assists record with 942 this season.

No. 8 Laval Rouge et Or

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  • Playoff finish: RSEQ finalists / Hosts
  • Regular season / playoff records: 14-6 / 2-2
  • Last U SPORTS championship: 2006
  • Total U SPORTS championships: 1 

Team leaders

  • Kills per set: Maud Chapleau (2.70)
  • Blocks per set: Alex Béraud (0.61)
  • Assists per set: Émie Gaboury (9.33) 
  • Digs per set: Maud Chapleau (3.53)

The Rouge et Or finished the season with its best record in five years, including six wins over their last seven games. This allowed them to reach the RSEQ final for a second year in a row, after beating McGill in two games in the conference semifinal. Jade Fortin and Maud Chapleau made the RSEQ first All-Star team, while setter Emie Gaboury was named to the second All-Star team.

Laval will have the advantage of counting on a supportive crowd during the U SPORTS Championship, which will take place at Laval University’s PEPS for the first time since 2011. Ranked third at the time, the Rouge et Or caused a surprise in the semi-finals, overtaking the Trinity Western Spartans. As a regular national championship host, this will be the first national volleyball tournament to be featured in new PEPS facilities.

 

CHAMPIONSHIP SCHEDULE

Thursday, Mar. 15

  • All-Canadian Awards Gala, 6:30 p.m. ET / 3:30 p.m. PT

Friday, Mar. 16 (Quarter-finals)

  • Montreal vs. Alberta,  1 p.m. ET / 10 a.m. PT
  • UBC vs. Dalhousie, 3 p.m. ET / 12 p.m. PT
  • Calgary vs. Laval, 6 p.m. ET / 3 p.m. PT
  • Ryerson vs. UBC Okangan, 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT

 

Full championship schedule here