Men's Volleyball Opens Final Four Against Bisons

Photo Credit: Josh Schaefer Photography
Photo Credit: Josh Schaefer Photography

\SASKATOON – The University of Saskatchewan Huskies will return to the Canada West Final Four this weekend for the first time since 2005-06.

Saskatchewan (15-9, 2-1), the fifth seed in the Canada West post-season will take on the second seeded University of Manitoba Bisons (19-5, 2-0) in the first semifinal Friday afternoon at 3 p.m. at the University of Alberta.

Manitoba took both of the regular season meetings this season. The Bisons won the opening game of the season in Winnipeg 3-0 on October 16, before taking Saturday night's match 3-2.

The Huskies advanced to the Final Four by defeating the fourth seeded Winnipeg Wesmen 2-1 in a best-of-three series last weekend. The green and white took an exciting fifth set on Friday before dropping a five setter on Saturday. The Huskies responded on Sunday with a 3-0 series clinching win.

Manitoba moved on to the conference's championship weekend by knocking of the Mount Royal Cougars 3-1 and 3-0.

The CIS No. 1 ranked University of Alberta Golden Bears received a bye to the Final Four after finishing the regular season in top spot in the conference at 23-1. The Golden Bears will meet the sixth seeded Trinity Western Spartans (14-10, 2-1) in the second semifinal on Friday. The Spartans advanced through last weekend's quarter-final round with a 2-1 series win on the road over the Calgary Dinos.

The winners of Friday night's matches will qualify for the CIS Championship hosted by McMaster University (Hamilton, Ont.) March 10-12. Saturday's conference championship match is set for 6 p.m. There is still plenty to play for in the bronze medal match. This year's Canada West bronze medalist will also qualify for a spot at nationals. The battle for third will be played at 3 p.m. on Saturday.

Stay tuned to huskies.usask.ca for more information or follow us on twitter @huskieathletics and use #CWplayoffs16 for updates.

From Canada West:

NEW WESTMINSTER – Looking to win their third consecutive Canada West title, the Alberta Golden Bears enter this weekend's conference men's volleyball Final Four in a familiar position: the favourites.

The Bears, who went 23-1 during the regular season, are set to host the Canada West championship tournament this Friday and Saturday in Edmonton.

Joining Alberta are the Manitoba Bisons, Saskatchewan Huskies and Trinity Western Spartans.

While Manitoba, who finished second during the regular season, emerging from their quarter-final series with Mount Royal was no surprise, Saskatchewan and TWU's wins over the past weekend were – at least according to the standings – surprises of varying degrees.

The Huskies downing the Winnipeg Wesmen – who handed the Bears their lone of the season on the final night of the regular season – in three games barely registered on the upset scale, as the teams headed into the playoffs as the 4th and 5th seeds respectively.

The Spartans three-game quarter-final win over the Calgary Dinos, however, was more unexpected, after the Dinos finished third in the conference with an 18-6, while TWU earned a 14-10 mark.

Regardless of the regular season and the quarter-final round of the conference playoffs, all four teams have a more than realistic chance at a nationals berth, as three of this weekend's four squads will earn trips to CIS nationals March 10-12 (McMaster University).

You can catch all the Final Four action live on Canadawest.tv

Final Four Schedule

Friday, March 4

Saskatchewan (3) vs. Manitoba (2) / 3:00 PM MST / CW Final Four semifinal 1

Trinity Western (4) vs. Alberta (1) / 6:00 PM MST / CW Final Four semifinal 2

Saturday, March 5

Loser semifinal 1 vs. Loser semifinal 2 / 3:00 PM MST / CW bronze medal game

Winner semifinal 1 vs. Winner semifinal 2 / 6:00 PM MST / CW championship game

Keep an eye on

Alberta - Brett Walsh

Setter

4th-year

Calgary, AB

Walsh, now in his fourth season with the Golden Bears, has once again set himself apart from the rest of the country. Walsh led the CIS with an astonishing 11.76 assists per set, while reaching the 1000 assist plateau for the second consecutive season. To put Walsh's excellence into perspective, the Calgary native would've topped his own single season record for assists (1,031) if the Bears would've played just six more sets this season.

Manitoba - Devren Dear

Right side

4th-year

St. Andrews, MB

Dear was first in the conference in 2015-16 in kills per set at 4.47 and started and played in 22 of 24 matches during the conference regular season. In addition, he was first in points per set at 5.0, while sitting fifth in conference total points with 388.5. His versatility on the court is highlighted as he also was sixth in Canada West in digs per set at 1.99 and 25th in total blocks at 49.

Saskatchewan - Jordan Nowakowski

Left side

5th-year

Rama, Sask.

University of Saskatchewan left side Jordan Nowakowski leads his team back to the Canada West Final Four in 2015-16 after performing at a high level all season. Nowakowski led the team with 3.60 kills per set this season and 28 service aces. He was solid defensively with a team-high 137 digs. The fifth-year will lean on his experience from last year's fifth place finish at nationals to lead the Huskies this weekend.

Trinity Western - Ryan Sclater

Outside hitter

4th-year

Port Coquitlam, B.C.

Sclater is the veteran of the group on the outside and led the Spartans with 4.07 kills per set in the regular season, which is the best individual offensive performance in TWU history. The fourth-year star collected 10 or more points in 23 of 24 regular season games and continued his success in the playoffs, averaging 4.45 kill per set in TWU's quarter-final series win over Calgary.

Men's volleyball Final Four team previews

University of Alberta Golden Bears (No. 1 seed)

2015-16 CW regular season record: 23-1

2015-16 CW regular season finish: 1st

2015-16 CW regular season head-to-head record vs. Final Four teams: 6-0

Last CW Championship & Total CW Championships:

2014/15, 16

Last CIS Championship & Total CIS Championships:

2014/15, 8

2015-16 leaders:

Kills per set: 4.06 – Ryley Barnes, left side

Digs per set: 2.09 – Reed May, libero

Hitting percentage: .511 – Taylor Arnett, middle

Service aces per set: 0.46 – Chris Towe, left side

Assists per set: 11.76 - Brett Walsh, setter

University of Manitoba Bisons (No. 2 seed)

2015-16 CW regular season record: 19-5

2015-16 CW regular season finish: 2nd

2015-16 CW regular season head-to-head record vs. Final Four teams: 3-3

vs. Alberta (0-2)

vs. Saskatchewan (2-0)

vs. Trinity Western (1-1)

Last CW Championship & Total CW Championships:

2002-03, 1

Last CIS Championship & Total CIS Championships:

2002-03, 10

2015-16 leaders:

Kills per set: 4.47 – Devren Dear, right side

Digs per set: 1.99 – Devren Dear, right side

Hitting percentage: .585 – Josh Crellin, middle

Service aces per set: 0.22 – Luke Herr, setter

Assists per set: 11.10 – Luke Herr, setter

University of Saskatchewan Huskies (No. 3 seed)

2015-16 CW regular season record: 15-9

2015-16 CW regular season finish: 5

2015-16 CW regular season head-to-head record vs. Final Four teams: 2-4

vs. Alberta (0-2)

vs. Manitoba (0-2)

vs. Trinity Western (2-0)

Last CW Championship & Total CW Championships:

2003-04, 10

Last CIS Championship & Total CIS Championships:

2003-04, 4

2015-16 leaders:

Kills per set: 3.60 - Jordan Nowakowski, LS

Digs per set: 1.91 – Ettiene Hagenbuch, L

Hitting percentage: .396 – Robert Graham, MB

Service aces per set: 0.31 – Jordan Nowakowski, LS

Assists per set: 9.25 – C.J. Gavlas, S

Trinity Western University Spartans (No. 4 seed)

2015-16 CW regular season record: 14-10

2015-16 CW regular season finish: 6th

2015-16 CW regular season head-to-head record vs. Final Four teams: 1-5

vs. Alberta (0-2)

vs. Manitoba (1-1)

vs. Saskatchewan (0-2)

Last CW Championship & Total CW Championships:

2012, 2

Last CIS Championship & Total CIS Championships:

2012, 3

2015-16 leaders:

Kills per set: 4.07 – Ryan Sclater, outside hitter

Digs per set: 2.66 – Tyler Koslowsky, libero

Hitting percentage: .390 – Aaron Boettcher, middle

Service aces per set: 0.30 – Blake Scheerhoorn, outside hitter

Assists per set: 9.04 – Devyn Plett, setter

Canada West men's volleyball history

Recent Canada West champions:

2014-15 – Alberta

2013-14 – Alberta

2012-13 – Brandon

2011-12 – TWU

2010-11 – Calgary

2009-10 – Alberta

2008-09 – Alberta

2007-08 – Alberta

2006-07 – TWU

2005-06 - Alberta

Recent CIS national champions:

2014-15 – Alberta

2013-14 – Alberta

2012-13 – Laval

2011-12 – TWU

2010-11 – TWU

2009-10 – Calgary

2008-09 – Alberta

2007-08 – Alberta

2006-07 – Winnipeg

2005-06 - TWU