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Opportunity To Defend Title This Weekend In Brandon At Western Canadians

Swift Current was good to Men's Volleyball in 2015. The veteran rotation is hopeful that this weekend in Brandon will provide the 7-2 Blazers with a second Western Canadian Open Volleyball Championship gold medal. We will soon find out.

The competition in MCAC conference play has been very strong for the first half of the season. A 3-1 home win on Saturday night over the defending 2016 MCAC champions, Providence University College, vaulted CMU into a half-game lead over the Pilots in the 2016-17 standings and has the team high in confidence as they enter their first weekend test at the 2016 Westerns.

The Western Canadians Tournament has been running for almost a decade. Rooted in Alberta and Saskatchewan, Westerns began as a joint volleyball championship tournament between the Alberta Colleges Athletic League (ACAL) and the Prairie Athletic Conference (PAC). In recent years, the ACC Cougars, USB Rouges, RRC Rebels along with CMU have all entered the joint championship, with the MCAC colleges and universities most often coming out on top.

The decline of ACAL at the end of the 2015-16 season, pushed the only remaining Alberta college (Prairie Bible College) into the Prairie Athletic Conference and effectly pushed the potential sites of the Western Canadian Tournament further east, landing this year in Brandon, Manitoba where the ACC Cougars will play host in partnership with Brandon University.

"It is exciting for us to play some teams that we haven't seen yet this year," said fourth year outside hitter Joel Kliewer who scored in a variety of ways in Saturday's win over Providence, "last season we didn't have too many problems against the Saskatchewan teams, but we stil have to be ready to play because we know they could be much improved."

One team that Kliewer noted could be a handful, are the Kelsey Amaruks from Saskatoon. Absent from the 2016 Westerns in Brandon are last year's men's finalist from PAC, the Millar Edge.

"After the round robin," added Kliewer, "USB in the playoffs will be our toughest competition." An emerging challenger for the 2017 MCAC Championship, Les Rouges shocked Providence earlier this season with their resilient defensive game and the power of rookie outside hitter Derrick Sabourin. Of note, the Blazers and USB will meet in St-Boniface in conference play on Friday night before they both travel to Brandon for Westerns on Saturday morning.

"If we can play our game and come into each match focused," said Kliewer, "we should have a very good chance to repeat as champions in this tournament."

CMU gets Western Canadians underway Saturday afternoon at 1:00 pm against the Amaruks at Brandon University's Healthy Living Centre. Later the Blazers take on the Great Plains Sundogs from Swift Current and the Palliser Panthers from Moose Jaw.


Manitoba Colleges Athletic Conference Northern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association