(FREDERICTON, NB) Championship season in Atlantic University Sport turns its gaze to UNB this upcoming weekend as the Varsity Reds host the AUS Women’s Volleyball Championships at the Richard. J CURRIE CENTER from February 13-15.
The festivities kick off on February 12 with the awards banquet,
where athletes and coaches will be recognized for their outstanding
performances and community involvement.
The quest for CIS starts with the Quarter-Finals on Friday at 4:30 pm, seeing the third-sixth place teams in action and will continue with the Semi-Final round on Saturday at 4:30pm. The Final will take place Sunday with the winner heading to the CIS Championship tournament at the University of Toronto on February 26.
Top-ranked Dalhousie (two-time defending champions) and Saint Mary’s both have byes and will play the winners of the Quarter-Final round.
Here’s a closer look at the teams who qualified:
Acadia University Axewomen:
Regular season record: 3-13 (6th place in AUS)
The Axewomen picked up their first of two wins in 2015 against Moncton at home in five tight games. Acadia picked up their last win of the 2014-15 season against Cape Breton following a loss to the then-first place Dalhousie Tigers. The Axewomen have lost their last four matches coming into the tournament. Standouts this season include senior libero Hillary Monette (New Minas, NS) who led the conference in digs, as well as teammates Fiona McGuinty (Ottawa, ON) and Sarah Ross (Toronto, ON) who led the Axewomen with block assists. Ross along with Jazmin Prest (Wolfville, NS) led the Axewomen with 134 and 133 kills respectively.
Third-year head coach Michelle Wood is optimistic about the team’s postseason hopes after a strong finish, despite the team’s record.
“Our level of play has significantly increased over the course of the year. We are competitive with all of our opponents, however our consistency is keeping us from getting results”, pointed out Wood. “We've proved to be a very strong blocking and defensive team and have demonstrated character and a drive to fight and work hard in every opportunity.”
Dalhousie University Tigers:
Regular season record: 10-6 (2nd place in AUS)
The two-time defending AUS champions Dalhousie Tigers had a much different look this season, with the departure of four of their six starters from last year. The seven remaining veterans and a strong group of rookies were determined to find similar success this season.
Despite going 3-6 early on in the season, the Tigers have won their last seven matches, securing a first-round bye at the AUS championship. Led by Anna Dunn-Suen (Halifax, NS) and Abby Czenze (Halifax, NS), the Tigers are poised to capture their third straight AUS title.
Memorial University Sea-Hawks:
Regular season record: 6-10 (4th place in AUS)
Coming off a quarter-final loss in last year’s postseason and a change in coaching staff, the Sea-Hawks came into the 2014-15 season with optimism. Under Memorial’s first ever full-time volleyball coach, John Slauenwhite, and a good mix of rookie talent and veteran leadership, the Sea-Hawks managed to secure a spot in the playoffs.
The team showed promise in the pre-season, but struggled through the gates in ranked AUS action. With only one win before the winter break, the Sea-Hawks returned with renewed strength, earning a .500 win percentage in the second half of the season.
Saint Mary’s University Huskies:
Regular season record: 11-5 (1st place in AUS)
Head coach Darren Russell's SMU Huskies have a first round playoff bye coming into the tournament. On top of finishing first in the standings, the Huskies also finished first in several team categories, including: kills, hitting percentage, assists, service aces, digs, total blocks, and points.
Saint Mary's are in the CIS Top 10 for hitting percentage, service aces per set and block solos. SMU is 2-3 in the last five AUS finals, winning titles in 2010 and 2012.
A young squad of twelve, the Huskies are led by four veterans: Shelby Michaels (Mill Bay, BC), Laurel O'Bright (Ottawa, ON), Shelby Charlton (Strathroy, ON), and Tessa Michaels (Mill Bay, BC). Leftside Rachel Windhorst (Surrey, BC) and middle Erin Smith (Moncton, NB) have been second year standouts. Rookie setter Elly Prince (Calgary, AB) and Maddie Clark (Ottawa, ON) have also been bright spots for the Huskies this season.
Université de Moncton Aigles Bleues:
Regular season record: 4-12 (5th place in AUS)
Les Aigles Bleues have focused on developing and giving their young players experience this season. They opened up their season with five straight wins but have struggled finishing teams off lately, often giving up leads late into sets.
Standout players for Moncton include Alyssa Turenne (LaBroquerie, MB) who led the team in points followed by Rachelle Lemoine (Winnipeg, MB), rookie Christelle Bertin (Beresford, NB) Geneviève LeBlanc (Dieppe, NB) and the only fifth-year player of the group, Véronique Carroll (Moncton, NB).
Head coach Monette Boudreau-Carrol has worked diligently to prepare her players for the postseason. Although the season has sometimes been difficult for the team, they’re looking to surprise other teams this weekend.
University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds:
Regular season record: 9-7 (3rd place in AUS).
The hosts of the tournament started the season with five new players, all of whom have made significant contributions for the V-Reds. One of those players, Victoria Eadle (Gallagher Ridge, NB), has started every match and is tied for second in the league for points per set.
Fifth-year setter Paige Paulsen (Keswick Ridge, NB) has been a consistent performer all season. She is second in the league in assists per set and third in the league aces per set. Fourth-year right side Vanja Mitrovic (Fredericton, NB) has been heating up all year. She is currently fifth in the league for points per set.
"Our new players have infused the program with energy, passion and competition. We also have great leadership from our older players, and together the camaraderie and the drive of the team has developed and made this season a real pleasure to coach – with this group, there's a sense that anything is possible!” - Jilliane Goulet, UNB head coach.
2015 Championship Schedule:
4:30pm - Quarter-Final 1: Moncton (5) vs Memorial (4)
7:00pm - Quarter-Final 2: Acadia (6) vs UNB (3)
4:30pm - Semi-Final 1: Winner Quarter-Final 1 vs Saint Mary's (1)
7:00pm - Semi-Final 2: Winner Quarter-Final 2 vs Dalhousie (2)
2:00pm - Final
Adult / Senior: $10.00
Students (non-UNB): $3.00
Youth (u-12) and UNB Students: FREE
All five tournament games will be webcast live at www.AUStv.ca.
Rob Trites for UNB Sports Information