Editor's note: Fraser Caldwell, the assistant sports editor at The Silhouette, will be writing about volleyball for us. Here is his first update of the season. -RP
This weekend saw very little in the way of surprises in the upper echelons of CIS volleyball. For the most part, the established national powerhouses remained on track. The OUA however, would manage to upset the proverbial applecart. Both of the division's representatives in the CIS rankings, Western and Queen's, suffered defeats, which will undoubtedly shift their places in the national balance.
#1 Laval Rouge et Or (1st in RPI)
In their lone game this weekend, the Rouge et Or easily disposed of the Montreal Carabins on Friday night, sweeping them in three fairly routine sets (23, 19, and 16). Despite what could well be called an off night on the part of All-Canadian outside Fredric Desbiens (7 kills and 7 errors on 21 total attempts), his fellow All-Canadian Karl de Grandpre picked up the slack with 14.5 points of his own. Middle hitter Micael Girard continued his stellar rookie season by converting 11 of 13 hits for an astounding percentage of .846.
Next Week: vs. UNB on Friday (Jan. 21), vs. Memorial on Saturday (Jan. 22).
#2 Alberta Golden Bears (2nd in RPI)
The Golden Bears rolled through the weekend with a double feature against the struggling Regina Cougars, who have only a single win to their name thus far this season. Alberta leaned heavily on the contributions of two players to sweep both matches with Regina: fifth-year veteran right side Spencer Leiske and sophomore middle Jay Olmstead. Leiske converted 20 of 41 attempts over the course of the weekend and put up 23 combined points, while Olmstead managed 20 of 35 and a total of 24.5 points.
Next Week: @ Manitoba on Friday and Saturday (Jan. 21 and 22)
#3 Trinity Western Spartans (4th in RPI)
No news to report on the Spartans' front, as the Langley, BC squad did not play this weekend. They're likely still enjoying their victory in the Spartan Classic tournament a week and a half ago.
Next Week: vs. Calgary on Friday and Saturday (Jan. 21 and 22)
#4 Calgary Dinos (7th in RPI)
The defending CIS champions needed the maximum of five sets in both matches against the UBC Thunderbirds this weekend, but managed to come away with four points. Unsurprisingly, it was the immense offensive output of middle hitter Graham Vigrass that tipped the scales in the Calgarians' favour. Vigrass, who stands as perhaps the single best middle in the CIS, converted 43 of 79 combined hits over the course of the weekend and managed 51.5 total points.
Next Week: @ Trinity Western on Friday and Saturday (Jan 21 and 22)
#5 Western Ontario Mustangs (3rd in RPI)
Western provides this update with its first taste of surprise, as the Mustangs fell to the McMaster Marauders in four sets on Saturday, snapping a 13 game winning streak to begin conference play. Most worrying for the Mustangs must be the plain fact that their star middle hitter Matt Waite was outgunned by his Marauder counterpart Tyler Santoni.
Next Week: vs. RMC on Friday (Jan. 21), vs. Queen's on Saturday (Jan. 22)
#6 Manitoba Bisons (10th in RPI)
The Bisons kept up with the other pace setters in Canada West this weekend with a pair of wins over the Saskatchewan Huskies. Manitoba relinquished only a single set to their cross-border rivals, due in large part to the contributions of third-year right side Dane Pischke. The Winnipeg native made good on 23 of 48 hitting attempts in the two contests, tallying 31.5 total points. A bigger test awaits the Bisons next weekend, as they play host to the #2 Alberta Golden Bears for a two-game series.
Next Week: vs. Alberta on Friday and Saturday (Jan. 21 and 22)
#7 Brandon Bobcats (13th in RPI)
Brandon maintained its position by dealing out consecutive defeats to the Thompson Rivers WolfPack this weekend (3-1 and 3-2). Reigning CIS Player of the Year Paul Sanderson was understandably key in both victories. The fifth-year left side exploded for 34.5 points in Friday's win, before adding 22 more in Saturday's five setter. The Melbourne, Australia native is currently on pace to break the all-time career kills record in Canada West.
Next Week: @UBC on Friday and Saturday (Jan. 21 and 22)
#8 Queen's Golden Gaels (8th in RPI)
Much like their fellow OUA representative in the CIS rankings, Queen's suffered an upset defeat this weekend. Playing the Waterloo Warriors, who were hot off of a win against McMaster the previous weekend, the Gaels dropped the Saturday contest in four sets. A 22 point effort from Canadian National 'B' Team outside Joren Zeeman was not enough to secure a victory for the Gaels, who saw only two players reach double digit scoring totals. That they managed to return to the win column against Laurier the following day will be little consolation to the Gaels. Huge marquee matchup against the Western Mustangs upcoming this Saturday.
Next Week: @ Windsor on Friday (Jan. 21), @ Western on Saturday (Jan. 22)
#9 Thompson Rivers WolfPack (12th in RPI)
TRU continued to prove that they sit a rung below the best in Canada West this weekend, as they dropped back-to-back decisions to the Brandon Bobcats (see above). Kevin Tillie, the reigning CIS Rookie of the Year, converted 49 of 109 hitting attempts over the course of the two game series, and notched 54 total points. However, one has to wonder whether the Frenchman's individual brilliance will be enough to turn around the WolfPack's now 3-7 season. TRU will have a golden opportunity to begin such a comeback next weekend, when they host the flagging Saskatchewan Huskies.
Next Week: vs. Saskatchewan on Friday and Saturday (Jan. 21 and 22)
#10 Dalhousie Tigers (6th in RPI)
The Tigers coasted to victory on consecutive nights against the Memorial Sea-Hawks, the doormats of the tripartite AUS division. To give a sense of the Sea-Hawks' futility, the Newfoundlanders have yet to win a match in 10 attempts, and have claimed only a single set in that time. It is no wonder then, that the Tigers swept in six routine games, with fifth-year seniors Max Burt and Sander Ratsep providing the offensive impetus. Long time middle Burt contributed 24 combined points, while Ratsep added 20.5 of his own.
Next Week: @ Montreal on Friday (Jan. 21), @ Laval on Saturday (Jan. 22)