Canada West conference maintained its supremacy at volleyball nationals

The closing weekend of the U Sports championship schedule didn't disappoint, as the Canada West (CW) conference maintained its supremacy in volleyball, and two curling teams executed a pair of delayed repeats.

Laurier, U of Alberta curling teams complete repeats after 3-year wait

A group of Trinity Western men's volleyball players gather around, holding a trophy above their heads.
Jesse Elser (11) of the Trinity Western Spartans hoists the Tantramar Trophy after winning the 2023 U Sports men’s volleyball championship with a 3-0 victory over the Sherbrooke Vert & Or on Sunday in Hamilton. (Michael P. Hall/McMaster Marauders)

The closing weekend of the U Sports championship schedule didn't disappoint.

On the ice, the Mount Royal Cougars women's hockey team upset the defending champion Concordia Stingers, and the UNB Reds came out out on top of the Alberta Golden Bears in a matchup between two of the most decorated programs in men's university hockey history.

Elsewhere, the Canada West (CW) conference maintained its supremacy in volleyball, and two curling teams executed a pair of delayed repeats.

When one thinks of a dynasty, they may imagine a string of consecutive championship victories, but the Trinity Western Spartans men's volleyball team is challenging that notion.

On Sunday at the 2023 U Sports men's volleyball championship in Hamilton, Ont., the Spartans needed just three sets to dispatch the No. 4 seed Sherbrooke Vert et Or (25-16, 25-20, 25-15) — Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) champion.

WATCH | Trinity Western battles Sherbrooke in nationals:

U Sports Men’s Volleyball National Championships: Gold - Trinity Western vs. Sherbrooke

3 months ago
Duration 1:44:29
Watch the gold medal game at the U Sports men's national volleyball championships between the Trinity Western Spartans and the University of Sherbrooke Vert & Or from Hamilton, Ont.

The victory secured the Spartans their fourth national championship in the last six tournaments dating back to 2017 (nationals weren't held in 2020 or 2021 due to COVID-19), and Sunday's game marked the seventh consecutive championship final that Trinity Western has played in.

The road to the final began on Friday with a tight three-set win over the No. 6 Montreal Carabins (26-24, 25-19, 29-27), with a kill by fourth-year Brodie Hofer securing the win.

Trinity Western followed up their quarterfinal victory with a four-set win over the host McMaster Marauders by battling back from a 1-0 hole (25-27, 25-20, 25-21, 25-21), the only set they lost in the tournament.

Third-year Mathias Elser recorded 43 of his 107 assists in the tournament against McMaster, leading all athletes with 10.7 assists per set en route to tournament MVP honours.

The Marauders ended up rebounding in the bronze-medal match, taking down No. 1 seed and defending national champion Alberta in three sets, who were coming off of a 3-0 loss to Sherbrooke in the semifinals.

UBC stuns defending women's volleyball champ

In the 2023 U Sports women's volleyball championship in Vancouver, the CW conference predictably won another national title, although the result itself was unexpected.

Despite winning their record 13th national title — six more than any other school — the No. 7 UBC Thunderbirds were unquestionably the underdogs entering their thrilling victory over No. 1 seed and defending champion Trinity Western (25-23, 22-25, 21-25, 25-18, 15-12).

WATCH | UBC, Trinity Western's instant women's volleyball classic:

U Sports Women’s Volleyball National Championships: Gold - Trinity Western vs. UBC

3 months ago
Duration 2:47:29
Watch the gold medal game at the U Sports women's national volleyball championships between the Trinity Western Spartans and the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds from Vancouver, B.C.

The 2,089 crowd at War Memorial Gym did their part in cheering on the hometown Thunderbirds, with tournament MVP Elise Petit appropriately ending the game with a kill.

The fifth-year led all players with 20 kills in the final, ranking second overall in the tournament in both kills and total attacks.

UBC began their tournament with a four-set quarterfinal victory over the No. 2 Brock Badgers (18-25, 25-19, 27-25, 25-20).

The tournament was nearly over before it began for the Thunderbirds, but numerous digs by fourth-year libero Kacey Jost kept UBC from going down 2-1 to the OUA champs.

All-tournament team selection Jost recorded at least 20 digs in each match, including UBC's four-set victory over the CW bronze medallist Manitoba Bisons (20-25, 25-20, 25-16, 25-14).

Laurier, U of Alberta on top of U Sports curling world

Dalhousie added two more medals to their haul at the 2023 U Sports curling championships in Sudbury, Ont., on Sunday, albeit not in the colours they were hoping for.

The national championship that took place from Wednesday through Sunday belonged to the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks men's team, accomplishing the rare feat of winning back-to-back national titles three years apart (due to COVID-19) after defeating the Tigers 9-7.

The Golden Hawks got out to a blistering start, going up 6-1 after four ends, but the Tigers clawed their way back to 8-7 with a three-point effort in the penultimate ninth end, narrowly missing out on a fourth point.

Laurier, led by head coach Matt Wilkinson — the one throughline to the 2020 championship team that also topped Dalhousie in the final — was able to regain form in the 10th to tack on another point and secure the title.

The Golden Hawks led all teams with a 6-1 record after round robin play, and took down the eventual bronze-medal winning Queen's Gaels 12-10 in the semifinals.

Laurier's victory was their fourth in program history, and broke a tie with the University of Alberta for the most national titles.

While Alberta lost hold of top spot in men's curling, the women's team returned the favour by securing their fifth national title — and second straight — on Sunday with a 5-4 win over Dalhousie, breaking a tie with the Golden Hawks for the most ever in tournament history.

After finishing as runner-up to the Victoria Vikes in the CW championships in February, the Pandas earned their way into the medal round with an up-and-down round robin performance.

After winning their first two games, Alberta hit a skid on Thursday and Friday with three consecutive losses to host Laurentian, TMU and Dalhousie, putting them outside of the top four qualifiers heading into the final day of the preliminary round.

The Pandas pulled through in the clutch on Saturday, stealing a total of 13 points across a pair of 10-4 and 10-3 victories over the UPEI Panthers and Memorial Sea-Hawks respectively to punch their ticket to the medal round, where they once again toppled the Sea-Hawks 7-6 in the semis thanks to a 5-point outburst in the eight end.

Alberta was represented by lead Zoe Cinnamon, second Brianna Cullen, fourth Serena Gray-Withers, alternate Gracelyn Richards and third Catherine Clifford — the lone member of the team that won gold in 2020.

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