QUARTERFINAL #4: Top-seeded Alberta ousts host Mac, off to semis
Courtesy of McMaster University sports information / Photo credit Cam Dunlop
HAMILTON, Ont. (CIS) – The top-seeded Alberta Pandas advanced to the semifinals of the CIS women’s volleyball championship for the third straight year thanks to a 25-19, 25-15, 24-26, 25-18 win over the tournament host McMaster Marauders in the last duel of opening day at Burridge Gymnasium, Friday night.
Saturday’s semifinals will see second-seeded UBC – the reigning four-time national champion - take on third-ranked Montreal at 6 p.m. Eastern, and Alberta face No. 5 McGill at 8 p.m.
On the consolation side of the draw, Trinity Western is set to face Queen’s at 1 p.m., while the host Marauders hope to rebound against Saint Mary’s at 3 p.m.
The Canada West champion Pandas hope to fare better tomorrow than in their last two Final Four appearances, which ended with losses to UBC a year ago (3-0) and to Manitoba in 2010 (3-1). Overall, Alberta has now reached the semifinals in its last five trips to the CIS tourney dating back to 2007.
Alena Omelchenko of Almaty, Kazakhstan, led the Pandas in their opener with 17 kills and a total of 20 points, en route to game-MVP honours.
Alyssa Jones of Edmonton was also effective on the outside with 11 kills. Setter Jaki Ellis of Mississauga, Ont., contributed in a number of areas recording 34 assists, 16 digs and six kills.
“We have to play better, because we are the top seed in the tournament, but McMaster played really well so we have to give them credit,” said Alberta head coach Laurie Eisler. “The main thing is we won and we're going to keep it going to the next game. We have to play to the situation and we have to play well under pressure; we can do that.”
McMaster left side Kailee Stock of Newmarket, Ont., had a team-high 10 kills in the four-set match and Lauren Mastroluisi of Ancaster, Ont., recently named to the 2011-12 CIS All-Rookie team, added eight more kills for the Marauders. Four players hit double-digit numbers in digs, including libero Meagan Nederveen of Dundas, Ont., with a team-high 14. Setter Amanda Weldon of Hamilton recorded 26 assists.
Calm, cool and collected, the Pandas started the game off strong, taking a commanding 10-3 lead and headed into the technical timeout up 16-10. McMaster would be able to get within three at 19-16. Despite a biased crowd in favour of the Marauders, Alberta finished off the first set with a score of 25-19.
In the second, McMaster would rally to gain the lead at 8-7 with both teams battling hard. It would take until 14-9 for the Pandas to take off with the lead and tough serves from Omelchenko would put the Marauders in trouble. Alberta would close out the set to go up 2-0 with a spread of ten points at 25-15.
The Marauders showed some character in the third set. Feeding off the crowd, McMaster lead throughout the set with spreads as large as nine points. As the Marauders took advantage of some poor serve receive from Alberta, the Pandas had their work cut out for them, needing to push hard to get out of the hole. They did, slowly working away at McMaster's lead, but the Marauders would hang on to force the fourth set, winning in extra points at 26-24.
“This is a neat place to play from a community point of view. We have lots of support, a little crazed at times... trying to get us the eighth, ninth or tenth person,” said McMster coach Tim Louks. “[Our team] is very appreciative of our fans. Just noisy and crazy - it certainly makes a big difference and a big impact on a go forward.”
Both teams battled it out in the fourth. Trying to tune out the noisy McMaster crowd, Alberta maintained a slight lead throughout the match. The Marauders would go ahead at 14-13, but it wouldn't last for long as the Pandas would head into the technical timeout up by one. After the timeout, the number one seed in the tournament went on an outstanding 8-0 run with the help of serves from Lia Stang of Provost, Alta., and would earn a berth in the semifinals with a score of 25-18.
Kills: Alena Omelchenko (17), Alyssa Jones (11)
Points: Alena Omelchenko (20), Alyssa Jones (14)
Blocks: Whitney Matheson (2)
Digs: Jaki Ellis (16), Erin Walsh (14)
Service aces: Whitney Matheson (3)
Assists: Jaki Ellis (34)
Player of the match: Alena Omelchenko
Kills: Kailee Stock (10)
Points: Kailee Stock (11), Lauren Mastroluisi (9)
Blocks: Shannon McRobert (1.5)
Digs: Meagan Nederveen (14), Lauren Mastroluisi (13)
Service aces: Amanda Weldon (4)
Assists: Amanda Weldon (26)
Player of the match: Team
CHAMPIONSHIP SCHEDULE & RESULTS
NOTE: Live webcast of all games on SSN Canada.
NOTE: Live broadcast of championship semifinals and Sunday games on Cable 14 (Hamilton).
Friday, March 2
13:00 Quarter-final #1: Montreal 3, Trinity Western 1 (25-22, 11-25, 25-21, 25-23)
15:00 Quarter-final #2: UBC 3, Queen’s 0 (25-19, 25-19, 25-16)
18:00 Quarter-final #3: McGill 3, Saint Mary’s 2 (26-24, 25-18, 20-25, 23-25, 15-13)
20:00 Quarter-final #4: Alberta 3, McMaster 1 (25-19, 25-15, 24-26, 25-18)
Saturday, March 3
13:00 Consolation #1: Trinity Western vs. Queen’s
15:00 Consolation #2: Saint Mary’s vs. McMaster
18:00 Semifinal #1: Montreal vs. UBC
20:00 Semifinal #2: McGill vs. Alberta
Sunday, March 4
11:00 5th place
13:00 Bronze medal
16:00 Championship final