Dan Khavkin, Cougar Athletics
QUEBEC CITY - Coach Shawn Sky's boys in blue are set to take on the familiar foe in the University of Alberta Golden Bears Friday afternoon in the U SPORTS national quarter-finals in Laval, Quebec at 1:00 PM MST. The Cougars make an appearance for the first time in program history, while The Golden Bears have made it for 18 straight years.
Heading into their nationals meeting, both squads nearly mirrored one another during Canada West regular season play. MRU finished their campaign 15-7 while Alberta sat one place above the Cougars in the conference standings with a 17-5 record.
Mount Royal's only meeting with the Golden Bears was in the second weekend of the season where Alberta swept the weekend, handing MRU their first two losses of the season. Both of the matches up in Edmonton were nail-biting three sets to two Alberta wins. .
Going into playoffs, Alberta finished third in the formidable Canada West but finished two spots below the Cougars in the national top 10 rankings.
The Cougars took the Saskatchewan Huskies in the Canada West quarter-finals and met Brandon again in the semis. MRU continued to look like the Bobcats' kryptonite, winning a game-one decision before the Bobcats answered back with back-to-back wins to take the series.
Alberta meanwhile, were stunned by 11-11 Thompson Rivers who shocked the volleyball world with their own sweep of the Golden Bears. This was done on Alberta home court and eliminate the hopes of a 15th Canada West banner.
Despite both teams eliminated from Canada West action, the U SPORTS ranking algorithm invited both the Canada West powerhouses back to nationals along with ranked no.1 and Brandon and no. 2 Trinity Western.
The Cougars will be led by fifth-year first team all Canadian Tyler Schmidt, as well as U SPORTS all-rookie team member Luis Lange. Alberta will relying on fifth-year second team all Canadian, Alex Mcmullin. These two outside hitters, will battle it out to see who moves onto the semis on Saturday.
The Cougars will look to keep moving along the road to school history with first serve scheduled for 1 p.m. MST Friday afternoon with the action available on usports.live