Though both teams have clinched a post-season berth, the No. 8 University of Alberta Pandas and No. 3 Golden Bears still need their “A” game in the final weekend to have the best possible spot in the standings come playoff time.
The Pandas will open the weekend with a 6:00 p.m. start time on Friday against the Brandon Bobcats, before a 6:30 p.m. rematch on Saturday. The Golden Bears, meanwhile, will have Friday’s late game (7:30 p.m.), and Saturday’s early time (5:00 p.m.) against the Brandon men’s team.
The top four teams in the conference standings earn the right to host a best-of-three quarter-final series in a week’s time. With a 13-9 record, the Pandas are tied for fourth place with the Trinity Western Spartans, currently holding the playoff tie-breaker: the ratio of sets won to sets lost over the season.
Since both teams have lost 38 sets, Alberta holds a slight edge by picking up three more set wins (51/38 = 1.34) than the Spartans (48/38 = 1.26) throughout the season.
That means that claiming home-court advantage requires winning matches and in as few sets as possible, not to mention that Alberta will be squaring off against a 10-12 Brandon squad fighting for one of the last three playoff spots, currently sitting just outside the post-season in ninth place.
The 18-4 Bears, despite guaranteed to host a quarter-final, can finish anywhere from first to fourth in Canada West, using that same tie-breaker method to potentially unseat Trinity Western from first but while fending off 16-6 Brandon who still hasn’t clinched home court over fifth-place Winnipeg.
In the back-up setter role for most of her time with Alberta Eryn Orysiuk had an all-star caliber performance in her final year, coming into the weekend in second place in Canada West with 9.84 assists/set. The Edmonton native needs only 27 more assists to capture the team record and 45 to break the Canada West single-season record.
Middle Arran Chambers is a defensive specialist, leading the team in total blocks this season and amassing 187 in his career along with 25 solo blocks.
Left side Michael Goertz, a CCAA champion with the Red Deer Kings, plays a secondary role with the Bears but has contributed in almost every match this season.
Panda Season Records
Orysiuk also has a chance to break the team record in aces, as does fourth-year middle Shauntelle Hogg, the two athletes both at 40 so far on the season, four shy of last year’s standard set by Kacey Otto, the Canada West career ace leader.
Sophomore Kory White can also topple Meg Casault’s kill total of 362 in the 2015-16 season, but she’ll need to tally 34 more of her own to do it this weekend against Brandon.