QUARTER-FINAL #4: CIS championship: Host Pandas shock No. 2 Montreal
Courtesy of University of Alberta sports information
EDMONTON (CIS) - Led by fourth-year left side hitter Tiffany Proudfoot and sophomore Krista Zubick, the tournament host and No. 7-seeded University of Alberta Pandas stunned the previously undefeated and No. 2 Montreal Carabins in straight sets of 25-20, 25-18 and 27-25 in the last quarter-final of opening day to advance to Saturday's semifinal round at the CIS women's volleyball championship.
Championship website (live webcasts): http://english.cis-sic.ca/championships/wvball
Proudfoot, originally from Calgary, led the Canada West
conference in kills this season, and certainly delivered the goods
for underdog Alberta in game one of her final weekend as a Panda.
The conference second-team all-star finished with a match-high 16
kills and a .300 hitting percentage.
Zubick, from St. Albert, Alta., added 14 kills, three aces and a whopping .480 hitting percentage in the biggest game of the young outside hitter’s career.
The Pandas spun eight aces on the Montreal side, while also racking up a team 35% attack rating and 43 digs.
“What we saw tonight were players who want to play and thrive in a pressure environment,” stated Alberta head coach Laurie Eisler. “They’re not afraid of being in that pressure cooker, they want to be, and that’s when they bring their best game.”
“I thought our serve game was very strong tonight, and that got them out of their system,” the three-time CIS coach of the year added. “We weren’t too aggressive, but just nice and steady, and forcing them to make the side-out.”
Former two-time CIS player of the year Laetitia Tchoualack, originally from Paris, France, suffered a knee injury in the opening set that kept her out for the entire second frame, but she came back early in the third to lead Montreal with 10 kills. Marie-Pier Methot of Baie-Comeau, Que., added nine kills, but the Alberta defence seemed to have an answer for every Montreal offensive parry.
The QSSF champions seemed rattled, and off the mark right from the get-go.
“Just about everything went wrong tonight,” said a baffled Montreal head coach Olivier Trudel of his side’s performance. “We couldn’t pass, we couldn’t serve, our blocking wasn’t that good, and neither was our defense.”
“It was just a really bad game, at a really bad time, and hats off to Alberta because they really took it to us,” he added.
The two teams have met three previous times on the national stage, all quarter-final matches, with the Pandas winning in three straight in 1998 and ’99, during their six in-a-row championship run, but losing 3-2 in 2006.
The opening points were split down the middle, until Alberta took their second lead of the match at 8-7. From there they never looked back, and at times owned a lead of five points or more, en route to a 25-20 win.
Les Carabins came storming back in the second, jumping out 3-0 and 6-3, before a Zubick block made it 10-9 for Alberta, their first lead of the second. They never lost that advantage, and displayed great shot selection, as Proudfoot absolutely carved the line with a perfect shot around the block for a 23-18 lead, and the 25-18 win.
The Pandas, at the national tournament as hosts after losing in the Canada West playoffs, appeared to be cruising in the third set, earning a 5-1 lead to start, and generating as much as a nine point lead at 19-10.
But, a resilient Montreal team was not about to go quietly into the Edmonton night, and before long, Les Carabins had dissected the lead from nine points to six points (20-14), and then to three points (21-18), and eventually a tie score at 21-21.
In fact, Montreal got four straight points off Proudfoot attacks, as they stuffed her three times in four attack attempts, and watched a fourth shot fire wide.
“Well, sooner or later, every great power hitter is going to get slammed like Tiffany got slammed tonight, and those were world class slams. But, we stuck with her, the setter kept feeding her, and to her credit, she found away through that big Montreal block,” said Eisler.
After Montreal jumped ahead 23-22, their first lead since the start of the second, Proudfoot powered a shot through that same Montreal block, giving the lead back to Alberta at 24-23, sending 1,265 towel-waiving fans in the Main Gym into an uproar.
The two sides traded nervous points after, but an attack error by Montreal was the break Alberta needed, as the Pandas claimed a 26-25 lead, setting the stage for Zubick kill off the Carabins’ block for the win.
“We might have been the only ones in the gym who believed we could do it, and Montreal made us massive underdogs, but we were confident underdogs. We truly believe that we’re right where we want to be,” said Eisler.
Alberta will now face the No. 3 Manitoba Bisons in Saturday’s second semifinal at 8 p.m. MST. Montreal plays a consolation semifinal against the OUA champion Toronto Varsity Blues at 2:30 p.m. MST.
CHAMPIONSHIP SCHEDULE & RESULTS (all times LOCAL: Mountain Time)
Friday, March 5
Quarter-final #1: No. 1 UBC 3, No. 8 Saint Mary’s 0 (25-17, 25-17, 25-13)
Quarter-final #2: No. 5 Laval 3, No. 4 Regina 0 (25-21, 25-21, 25-19)
Quarter-final #3: No. 3 Manitoba 3, No. 6 Toronto 0 (25-21, 25-20, 25-19)
Quarter-final #4: No. 7 Alberta 3, No. 2 Montreal 0 (25-20, 25-18, 27-25)
Saturday, March 6
13:00 Consolation #1: No. 8 Saint Mary’s vs. No. 4 Regina
14:30 Consolation #2: No. 6 Toronto vs. No.2 Montreal
18:30 Semi-final #1: No. 1 UBC vs. No. 5 Laval (SSN Canada webcast)
20:00 Semi-final #2: No. 3 Manitoba vs. No. 7 Alberta (SSN Canada webcast)
Sunday, March 7
12:00 5th place
15:00 Bronze medal (SSN Canada webcast)
18:00 Championship final (SSN Canada webcast)