The University of Alberta Golden Bears are Canadian Interuniversity Sport volleyball champions. U of A won the tournament held over the weekend at the University of Calgary beating the University of Western Ontario Mustangs in straight sets (25–19, 25–17, 25–16).
The Golden Bears grabbed the momentum early and used the energy of the raucous pro-U of A crowd to keep the pressure on. Set point saw U of A middle attacker Matt McCreary come up with a huge block to win the first set.
The Mustangs were able to hang around early in the second set but an overpowering U of A attack and some errors by the Mustangs allowed the Golden Bears to extend their lead.
The Golden Bears dominated the third set start-to-finish going on a 5–0 run after giving up the first point. U of A right-side player and Calgary native Kevin Proudfoot consolidated their lead with four straight points in the middle of the set. Match point saw a Mustangs serve float into the net as the Golden Bears’s bench stormed the court to celebrate.
The Golden Bears established their middle attack early, which subsequently gave them the ability to spread the ball around throughout the match. This was one of the keys to their victory according to U of A head coach Terry Danyluk.
“I thought we did a really good job of keeping a balanced offence. We used our middles early to try to get them jumping and they got jumping so we ran a lot of stuff out of the back row against them,” said Danyluk.
This balanced attack was contrasted by a Mustangs offence that relied heavily on their outside hitters. Justin Scapinello and Garret May accounted for 27 of their 34 kills. On the other hand the Golden Bears had five hitters with five kills or more.
Danyluk talked about the fan support as a factor in their success both in the final and throughout the year.
“There are a lot of fans here, our fan support has been really good all year,” said Danyluk. “A lot of people came up from Edmonton, which is nice to see.”
Player of the Game honours went to fifth-year Golden Bear Jay Olmstead who finished the match with nine kills and four digs.
It was a bit of an up-and-down year for the Golden Bears, who finished the season with a record of 15 wins and seven losses. Olmstead credited the team’s resiliency as a big part of their championship run.
“We put in so much hard work and we dealt with so much. We lost a lot this year and we were able to fight back from it. To be here right now is just incredible,” said Olmstead.
Olmstead downplayed the importance of his Player of the Game award.
“It could have gone to anyone on our team. It was a real team effort,” said Olmstead.
The University of Calgary Dinos qualified for the tournament as hosts but bowed out early in the tournament losing to McMaster in the quarterfinals. The tournament capped off a disappointing season for the Dinos.