The Canadian Interuniversity Sport Women's Volleyball Championship took place Mar. 2-4 in the Jack Simpson Gymnasium. Eight teams from across Canada brought their best entrees, hoping to be crowned the winner. With the plethora of talent attending this year's tournament, there were many different flavours and the spice was strong. The Championship is a dish best served hot, so read on to find out what came off the grill in the end.
Dinos Burger- $12.95
Injuries plaguing the hosting Dinos throughout their season brought this dish near extinction with the team experiencing some troubles approaching the CIS Championship. They dropped the four games they played during their Canada West playoff run to bring their record to 14-10 and dropping them to fifth seed for the tournament draw.
There is enough individual talent in a Dinos burger to keep you stuffed for days. Winning the 2004 CIS Championship and placing third in 2005 gave the Dinos the necessary condiments to continue to attract a wide talent base. Fifth-year Natalie Schwartz has a wealth of experience from her years as a Dino and averaged 10.42 sets per game over 104 games. She also averaged 2.34 digs per game for a total of 244, the team's third highest.
Lauren Perry, a second-year who was named 2005 Canada West Women's Volleyball Rookie of the Year, posted the most kills and service aces for the Dinos, averaging 2.66 kills over 101 games and dropping in 17 aces. She recorded the second-highest number of digs on the team, averaging 2.66 per game.
T-Bird Jambalaya- $14.50
This spicy Thunderbird dish from the University of British Columbia earned themselves the top seed in the tournament draw. In conference play, they lost just one game in November, going 23-1 for the season. Shelley Chalmers has a recipe at the net. She averaged 2.58 kills and 1.05 blocks per game during the regular season. Emily Cordonier averaged a painful 3.84 kills per game.
Surprise des Pommes Rouge et Or- $15.95
The ladies on the Universite Laval Rouge et Or squad came to Calgary with a net game unsurpassed by any other team. This season, the team was undefeated, winning an incredible 108 of 120 sets and putting them in second seed. Caroline Fiset had the most kills for the team, averaging 3.33 per game. MarylÃ¨ne Laplante added 2.89 kills per game and an astounding 45 service aces to her team's dominant season.
Panda Steak with Mushroom Peppercorn Sauce- $10.50
The University of Alberta lopped off a chunk of endangered Asia for this treat and were seeded third in the process. They squeezed ahead of the Dinos in conference play, going 18-6. Outside hitter Tawana Wardlaw led Canada West in kills, averaging 3.81 over 74 games. Middle Tasha Holness will threaten opposing species at the net with 1.34 blocks per game in 68 games.
Spartans' Chunky Vegetable Stew- $9.95
The Trinity Western University ladies had a hearty season to go with this hearty dish and were seeded fourth as a result. They were 18-7 in conference games, defeating the Dinos in the consolation round of the Canada West Final Four. From the hand of Saralyn Raugust rained down 239 kills while from the forearms of Julie Blackburn rose 418 digs.
Carabin Onion Soup- $6.50
The ladies from l'Universite de Montreal may speak a crazy foreign language, but they make a mean onion soup. This second of two teams from Quebec was seeded sixth with a 16-5 record in their regular season. Watch out for Myriam Aboumerhi, who had 216 kills and 230 digs, and Nadine Alphonse and Melody Benhamou, who threw down a massive 56 and 52 stuff blocks respectively.
Lancers' Curried Meatballs- $11.95
This sole Ontarian invitee from the University of Windsor took the seventh seed with a less than superb 12-7 regular season. However, their post-season kick allowed them to win the Ontario University Athletics title and a spot at the CIS Championship. With Caitlin Morrissey averaging 3.57 digs and 2.75 kills per game, she packed enough meatballs to carry this team.
Huskie Meatloaf- $7.50
The representative of Atlantic Canada, Saint Mary's University, merrily made a mighty meatloaf in the maritimes, winning 15 of their 21 games and the Atlantic University Sport playoffs. Danielle Shortall didn't come up short at all, leading her team in both kills, with 2.39 per game, and service aces, with 31.
Day 1- Appetizers
On Thursday night, the Dinos met the Spartans, a team they lost to in their only 2005-2006 match in five sets. But the loss, less than a week earlier, had left the Dinos hungry. The coach and players, who had expected a lower seed after their CW playoff performance, were more than happy with another crack at devouring the Spartans.
"It was such a good vibe. There were so many fans," Julie Young said of the opportunity to have the CIS Championship at home. "It helps when you have everyone on your side."
The game began with the Dinos picking at TWU like a skewer on their barbeque. The Dinos came out poised and comfortable. By the second technical time-out, they had accumulated a 16-8 lead and continued to chew. They held their eight-point lead to a 25-17 victory.
As the Spartans became accustomed to the heckling Dino fans, they somehow found a way to win some points. An early nine-point run put the Spartans up 12-3 before the Dinos began to creep back onto the scene. They chipped away at the Spartan lead, tying the score at 23 on a huge block from Deanna Delisle. A couple more blocks helped the Dinos secure the set 26-24.
The comeback had the Dinos psyched to keep on truckin' and take the match in three sets. In a blink of the eye, they were up 6-0 on Delisle's serve. This set the tone for the set as the Dinos went on to win 25-16. Who's side is God on now Trinity?
"Trinity Western hasn't won a set in our gym in their history," recalled Dinos head coach Kevin Boyles when asked if winning in three sets was a surprise after losing the previous weekend.
Young led the Dinos in both kills and digs with 11 and 13 respectively.
"We stopped worrying about the outcome and stopped looking at the scoreboard," Boyles said of the quick win.
Earlier on Thursday, Laval plowed through the Lancers like a locomotive, allowing their momentum to carry them to consecutively more decisive set wins (25-22, 25-14, 25-10). Les Carabins upset the Pandas in five sets (25-21, 28-26, 22-25, 19-25, 15-13). Finally, Cordonier, with 23 kills, led the T-Birds to a win over the Huskies (23-25, 25-11, 25-15, 25-15).
Day 2- The Entree
The Dinos' win pitted them against the T-Birds in the semi-final round on Friday. In some strange twist, the Dinos convincingly lost a five-set match to the T-Birds in CW playoffs. So, this game against the top-ranked T-Birds would test everything the Dinos had left. However, the Dinos had lost to the Spartans in that same tournament, but took them out back like Ol' Yeller on Thursday.
"Nationals are like a whole new season," said Delisle after defeating TWU. "Whoever can handle the pressure will come out on top."
Both teams began to feel the pressure early on Friday. The Dinos came out with the confidence they had earned the previous evening and found themselves up 20-15 with no sign of a T-Bird comeback. However, an un-signposted comeback was in the works as the T-Birds tied the game at 21. Despite the Dinos' best efforts to get back into the driver's seat, UBC took control of the game with a 25-23 win.
"UBC stepped up their game," commented Boyles. "We pushed them hard and forced them to play their best."
And although, if the Dinos had held onto that first set, the win should have been their's, the T-Birds continued to play their best. As if they'd found a groove like Will Smith with "Wild Wild West," the T-Birds sailed to a 25-18 second set. But the Dinos weren't ready to get jiggy with it--whatever it is one can get jiggy with. They jigsaw puzzled the T-Birds to a 9-22 lead before the nightmares returned. An 8-1 UBC run thrust spectators into the horror of the first set, but the Dinos nipped the comeback before it bloomed into a win, taking an 18-25 set win.
"We needed that first set," admitted Boyles. "It was gutsy to come back and win the third."
The Dinos continued to look promising throughout the fourth set, barely trailing the T-Birds to a 16-16 tie. Clutch plays from various Dinos kept them close until the T-Birds broke the one-point struggle at 21-20, accelerating to a 25-21 win and breaking the Dinos' dream of a championship win. Blame it on the noisy cowbells overhead.
Young had a game-high 19 kills and 21 digs, which was unfortunately not enough for a win. Perry posted 11 kills and 15 digs while Schwartz put up 40 assists and 12 digs. Neda Boroumand added 15 digs in the Dinos' effort.
"We hope to step up and play that well again," pledged Boyles for the bronze medal match the following morning.
Also on Friday, the Rouge et Or defeated the Carabins in straight sets (25-10, 25-21, 25-14) to advance to the finals against the T-Birds. The Spartans defeated the Huskies quickly (25-21, 25-18, 25-16) securing them a battle against the Pandas, who were quick to beat the Lancers (25-12, 25-9, 25-17).
Day 3- Desserts
The sweet, sweet taste of a national banner would be donned upon some team this afternoon, but it wouldn't be the Dinos. But since we, at the University of Calgary, love them so much, we'll focus on them in a sec anyway.
The T-Birds lost to the Rouge et Or (23-25, 25-23, 25-23, 25-19) in a very exciting gold medal match. Although the T-Birds managed to pull the same first-set scam they did against the Dinos on Friday, the outrageously French Laval team busted out nine service aces as Laplante put down 21 kills to secure the gold.
The ball bounced back and forth for fifth place between the Spartans and Pandas. It was, eventually, the Spartans who came out on top of the five-set ordeal (24-26, 25-22, 25-22, 15-25, 15-7).
The Dinos and Carabins put on a show for fans willing to show up for the a.m. start. The Carabins set the pace with a 19-25 first set win.
"We were just asleep," Schwartz admitted of the first-set loss. "We weren't playing very well."
The Carabins kept up the charade with a 5-8 lead in the second, but the Dinos began to decipher their code with a 1-5 run that put them ahead 22-13. The teams traded points from that point forth, securing a 25-16 Dinos win.
"It was difficult to play in the morning," Boyles said. "Especially on a 12-hour turn around. But we weren't about to roll over!"
The third set was a similar fairy tale, with the Dinos fighting back from a 7-8 deficit. They, again, had no trouble putting the Carabins down, with a decisive 25-13 win. In the fourth set, the Carabins finally managed to hold a lead. They were up 17-22, and despite letting the Dinos within one at 23-24, the Carabins held on to win the set 23-25.
The final set was a true battle that amused fans to no end. Neither team ever got into position to hop, skip or jump to a comfortable lead. The Dinos, on a Young kill, were the first to earn a match point, but couldn't finish the job. Our ladies continued to jump one point ahead until consecutive kills from Delisle and Young finally ended the match in an 18-16 Dinos win.
"It was a lot of fun to have a match like that," Boyles laughed about the close call. "They wouldn't die."
"That made if fun," agreed Perry, "and it was good for the fans."
Rookie Laura Spence showed promise for next season with a 14 kills while Delisle added 11. Perry warmed the court with 11 kills and 12 digs. Young and Carolyn MacDonald added 14 and 12 digs respectively and nine kills each.
"We didn't want to walk out empty-handed," smiled a noticeably happy Schwartz.
With the win, the Dinos won themselves bronze medallions at the CIS Championship for the second year in a row. With just Schwartz and Boroumand out of eligibility to continue playing, look for the Dinos to take the championship next year. They, again, host the tournament and should have most of this year's roster, including the injured, poised to kick some ass next year.