(FREDERICTON, N.B.) – The Dalhousie Tigers were able to finish off the UNB Varsity Reds in the second game of a best-of-three series, capturing the AUS championship title. The Tigers now move on to the CIS national tournament.
The home crowd was very excited after the underdog Varsity Reds opened up the match with a 15-6 run in the first set, one they would go on to easily win. UNB's Cody Timmons (Lower Sackville, N.S.) and Mathieu Losier (Fredericton, N.B.) made a series of nice blocks that helped UNB capture the first set.
The turning point of the match was at the end of the second set. UNB went down early but would rally to tie the set 24-24. The Tigers dug in their heels defensively, winning the next two points and the set. Dalhousie's Kristen O'Brien (AUS All-Star from Truro, N.S.) ended the set with a block which lead to a defensive error by UNB. Dalhousie turned up the intensity on defense and used the momentum gained from the second set win to take the next two sets by a combined score of 50-25.
"If [UNB] won that [set] it could have been a very, very different outcome today. So I credit our guys for holding it together at the end and pulling that tight set out," said Dan Ota (AUS Head Coach of the year winner) of the Tigers.
"I think the key for us was playing a consistent game. Our slide-out game was very good. Once our serving and blocking caught up I think we really started winning a lot of those close points. Our ability to transition and keep our composure in long rallies I think won us some really long, key points."
Dalhousie had a very tight rotation, with only eight of their 17 players seeing action. AUS Subway Player of the Series was Kristen O'Brien with nine kills, seven digs and three blocks in the championship game. Subway Player of the Game for Dalhousie was Bryan Duquette (AUS MVP and All-Star from St. Thomas, Ont.), he collected 14 kills, eight digs and three blocks.
"The trophy was the key for us, so that's obviously the one (award) that means the most," said Bryan Duquette on his accolades. "Everything I've accomplished, it wouldn't be anything if it weren't for my teammates."
With the loss, UNB is done for the year. Playing their last games for the Varsity Reds were Chhase McFarlen (Port Moody, B.C.), Marc White (New Maryland, N.B.), Brett LeDrew (Student-Athlete Community Service Award winner from Clarenville, N.L.) and Subway Player of the Game for UNB, Craig Toonders (Navan, Ont.) who had four kills, one service ace, two digs and seven blocks.
"Were graduating some pretty good guys," said UNB head coach Dan McMorran on the rebuilding process. "We have a lot of guys chomping at the bit here. Cody Timmons came in and ended up being a starter for us the last three weeks of the season. We've got Elliot Allison (London, U.K.) who is a monster waiting to break out. We've got a good group of guys returning, plus we think we have two of the best recruits across the county already committed here for us."
Dalhousie will look to continue their success as they travel to the CIS national championship tournament in Saskatoon, Sask., on February 26.
"We're lucky, we've seen most of the teams that will be there," said Bryan Duquette on Dalhousie's chances at nationals. "We gotta go out there firing, because they're gonna be out there gunning for us too."
Source: Rob Trites for UNB Sports Communications
Photo by Bradley Parker