Playoff Cross Courts: MVB quarter-finals open Thursday

Playoff Cross Courts: MVB quarter-finals open Thursday

Brian Swane, Special to Canada West

EDMONTON - Two weeks before Edmonton welcomes the country's top squads for the 2017 U SPORTS FOG Men's Volleyball Championship, the quest to be the best in the west begins.

The Canada West playoffs get started this weekend with best-of-three quarter-final round series. Among the teams in action will be nationals host Alberta Golden Bears and the defending champs from Trinity Western.

The winners advance to next weekend's Final Four hosted by the Manitoba Bisons, who earned a quarter-final bye after finishing atop the regular season standings.

A look at the series:

(7) Winnipeg vs. (2) Trinity Western

The defending Canada West and U SPORTS champion Spartans lost only three times this season, but one came against the Wesmen, who proved a handful for TWU in Winnipeg two weeks ago. The Wesmen won 3-1 on the first night, before TWU regrouped to pull out a 3-2 victory in he rematch. TWU ranked first in Canada West in a number of categories this season, including hitting percentage (.307), assists per set (11.94) and service aces per set (2.01). The Spartans were near-unbeatable in Langley, going 2-1 at home this season, though Winnipeg owns a solid 6-6 road record, including a win at UBC.

(6) Mount Royal vs. (3) Alberta

The venerable Golden Bears, they of the record 14 Canada West titles, meet the upstart Cougars, who are seeking their first playoff series win after debuting in the post-season just a year ago. The Bears hosted MRU for two games a month ago, with both going the full five sets Alberta ultimately prevailed. Alberta ranked first in Canada West with 12.62 kills per set, two spots ahead of Mount Royal, which was third at 12.52. Since dropping back-to-back contests at Manitoba in mid-November, the Bears have been blazing hot, going 16-2. The Cougars finished the season winning three of four to move into sixth place.

(5) Brandon vs. UBC (4)

Mere days after concluding the regular season with a pair of games in Brandon, the T-Birds and Bobcats renew acquaintances in Vancouver. Last weekend's playoff preview failed to produce a favourite, as each earned a victory. Both teams are on a similar path of progression, having missed the post-season last year after reaching Final Four in 2015. Brandon's James Weir and Mason Metcalf rank second and third, respectively, in Canada West for blocks per set. No team in the conference was on the court more than UBC, who played 100 sets in the regular season.

Men's volleyball quarter-finals series schedule:

Thu. 2 Mount Royal   Alberta   7:00 PM MST
  CW Quarter-finals - Game 1
  Winnipeg   Trinity Western   8:30 PM PST
  CW Quarter-finals - Game 1
Fri. 3 Mount Royal   Alberta   7:00 PM MST
  CW Quarter-finals - Game 2
  Brandon   UBC   8:00 PM PST
  CW Quarter-finals - Game 1
  Winnipeg   Trinity Western   8:30 PM PST
  CW Quarter-finals - Game 2
Sat. 4 Mount Royal   Alberta   6:00 PM MST
  CW Quarter-finals - Game 3 (if necessary)
  Brandon   UBC   7:00 PM PST
  CW Quarter-finals - Game 2
  Winnipeg   Trinity Western   8:30 PM PST
  CW Quarter-finals - Game 3 (if necessary)
Sun. 5 Brandon   UBC   4:00 PM PST