It’s been a memorable season thus far for both of the Tigers volleyball teams, as well as the men’s basketball team. All three squads have landed themselves in first-place in the conference standings and will look to continue their momentum in the AUS playoffs in the coming weeks. Here is what we can expect:
Regular season record: 11-6
Play-off breakdown: The Tigers will do battle with the UNB Varsity Reds beginning this Saturday, Feb. 25 at the Dalplex in a best-of-three series to determine the AUS conference champion. Game two goes on Saturday, March 4 at UNB, and a third game, if needed, will take place back at Dalhousie, on Friday, March 10.
Preview: The Tigers were dominant in AUS conference play in 2016-17, winning all but one matchup. Three of their 11 wins on the season came against the second-place UNB Varsity Reds – who they will face beginning this weekend – for the conference championship. Dalhousie will be looking for redemption, after the Varsity Reds topped the Tigers last season to claim the AUS banner.
Despite Dalhousie taking three of four matchups against UNB this season, the Varsity Reds have played them tough. Two of their four contests went to five sets, and UNB recorded at least 20 points in nine of the 17 total sets played.
The series will be won at the net, as it features four of the best outside hitters in the conference in Dal’s Kristen O’Brien and Matthew Donovan, as well as UNB’s Eivind Andersen and Tristen Burridge. All four players finished the regular season in the top five in total kills.
Regular season record: 19-1
Play-off breakdown: Dalhousie begins their quest for a fifth-straight conference championship on Friday, March 3 at Saint Mary’s University, where they will take on the fourth-seeded Moncton Aigles Bleues in AUS semifinal action. If the Tigers knock off Moncton, they will face the winner of the other semifinal match-up between #2 Memorial and #3 Saint Mary’s the following day for the AUS banner.
Preview: Dalhousie took all three games against the Aigles Bleues during the regular season, however in two of those three contests, Moncton was able to take the U Sports #8 ranked Tigers to five sets.
Both teams have a potent attack the net. Dalhousie’s Courtney Baker and Mieke DuMont finished third and fourth in the conference in total kills, while Moncton’s Christelle Bertin and Pascale Doiron were fifth and eighth, respectively.
Depth will likely play a major role for the Tigers when the two teams do battle, as they boast a well-rounded roster that also includes fifth-years Marisa Mota, Abby Czenze and Amy Appleby, fourth-year Anna Dunn-Suen and second-years Victoria Haworth and Lauren Koskowich.
Mota finished second in the conference in total digs, Czenze led the AUS in total assists, Appleby was a service specialist and Dunn-Suen, Haworth and Koskowich were all critical members at the net.
Regular season record: 15-4
Play-off breakdown: Already guaranteed a berth in the U Sports Final 8 as hosts, the Tigers haven’t slowed down in AUS regular season play, and at the moment, are sitting in top spot. They have also secured a place in the conference semifinals, which take place on Saturday, March 4 at the Scotiabank Centre.
With a victory against the UPEI Panthers this Friday, Dalhousie will put the icing on top of what has been a tremendous regular season, with a first-place finish and the number one seed in the AUS playoffs.
Preview: Led by two-way phenoms Ritchie Kanza Mata and Kashrell Lawrence, as well as sharpshooters Sven Stammberger and Jarred Reid, the Tigers have shown exactly why they are the two-time defending conference champs.
Their path to a third-straight AUS title won’t be easy though, as two of the other teams entering the 2016-17 AUS playoffs – second-place UNB and current third-place Saint Mary’s Huskies – are responsible for all four of the Tigers losses thus far this season.
It will be a battle of top talents if Dal faces either of these squads in the postseason. UNB features stud guard Javon Masters, who finished just behind Kanza Mata for first in total assists on the year, while Saint Mary’s will have powerful forward Achuil Lual battling on the glass for every rebound against the active play of Lawrence.