Playing in the consolation final of the Canadian Interuniversity Sports men’s volleyball championship for the first time since 2001, the fifth-seeded Alberta Golden Bears knocked off the No. 6 McMaster Marauders in four sets (25-22, 25-23, 22-25, 25-18), Sunday (March 6) at the Langley Events Centre.
Alberta got off to a quick start in the opening set and, despite a third set blip, was the better side throughout much of the contest. Leading the way for the winning side were Jay Olmstead, who had a team-high 16 kills, Spencer Leiske (15 kills) and Mitch Irvine (13 kills, 4 service aces).
In the opening set, the Golden Bears really took off thanks to a massive serving and attacking effort from Irvine, who finished the set with six kills and three aces. The Bears led for the majority of the set and wrapped things up at 25-22.
In the second set, McMaster’s Tyler Santoni got the first two points of the set, via a block and a service ace. McMaster managed to maintain that lead and possessed as much as a 16-12 advantage at the second technical timeout.
But Alberta came racing back.
Hoping to end the match in three quick sets, Alberta went on a 6-2 run after the second break to tie the game 18-18. From there, the Golden Bears kept pushing their agenda and, with eight kills in the set from Leiske, Alberta helped itself to a 25-23 win.
An out of rotation call on McMaster’s Austin Campion-Smith turned the set late towards Alberta and the Golden Bears made good on the setter’s mistake by finishing the set shortly thereafter.
“He made a freshman mistake and I need to deal with that,” said McMaster coach Dave Preston. “But he’s played outstanding this weekend considering everything that has been on him and the responsibilities he’s has to carry.”
After that though, the third set provided some intrigue.
With Alberta hitting just 14.8 per cent compared to McMaster’s 29.6 per cent in the set and the Marauders out-blocking the generally strong big men from Alberta five to two, the Marauders received a well-earned 25-22 win.
The Golden Bears were up 16-15 at the second timeout but it was McMaster coming through late with a 10 of the final 16 points.
In the fourth, and what would be final, set, Alberta showed why they have been so highly ranked all year. They didn’t allow McMaster to make a single team block and cranked up their hitting percentage to 41.7 per cent en route to a convincing seven-point win at 25-18.
“Any time you get to play a program like Alberta, it’s a good opportunity for us but the parameters around that match were very difficult for us,” Preston said. “I thought we did a pretty good job. The first three sets were very close.”
The Marauders were led by Tyler Santoni, who had five kills and eight blocks, Shayne Petrusma, who had 12 kills, and Kevin Stevens, who had 11 kills.
McMaster finishes the tournament in sixth place, two spots below its fourth place finish in its last national tournament appearance in 2009.
Kills : Jay Olmstead (16), Spencer Leiske (15), Mitch Irvine (13)
Points: Mitch Irvine (18.5), Spencer Leiske (18), Jay Olmstead (17)
Blocks: Simon Lidster (4)
Digs: Erik Mattson (13)
Service aces: Mitch Irvine (4)
Assists: Tanner Nault (47)
Player of the match: Jay Olmstead
Kills: Shayne Petrusma (12), Kevin Stevens (11), Tyson Alexander (6)
Points: Shayne Petrusma (14.5)
Blocks: Tyler Santoni (8)
Digs: Joshua Lichty (7)
Service aces: Jori Mantha (2)
Assists: Austin Campion-Smith (43)
Player of the match: Tyler Santoni