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UBC and TWU open at No. 1 in volleyball

Canadian Interuniversity Sport

10/16/2012 2:19:50 PM

OTTAWA (CIS) - The University of British Columbia Thunderbirds and Trinity Western University Spartans, both reigning national champions, top the first CIS rankings of 2012-13 in women's and men's volleyball, respectively.

In other CIS sports, Alberta takes the pole position in men's hockey, while Calgary (women's hockey), St. Francis Xavier (women's rugby), Ottawa (women's soccer), York (men's soccer) and Guelph (women's & men's cross country) all maintain their No. 1 status.

In women's volleyball, UBC opens at No. 1 for the second straight year and for the third time in the last four campaigns. Last march, the Thunderbirds edged Alberta in five sets in a thrilling national final to capture their fifth consecutive CIS banner, one shy of the all-time mark, and their ninth overall, an all-time record.

The T-Birds looked as good as ever this past weekend when they travelled to Quebec for their first pre-season matches against CIS competition, registering three straight-set wins in as many outings against perennial powerhouses Montreal (1) and Laval (2). UBC resumes non-conference action this weekend at the West Coast Classic against four Canada West rivals, before kicking off the regular season with a bang on Oct. 26-27 with a home-and-away series versus No. 2 Trinity Western.

Rounding out the inaugural women's volleyball coaches' poll are No. 3 Alberta, No. 4 Laval, Toronto and Manitoba in a tie at No. 5, No. 7 Ottawa, No. 8 Calgary, No. 9 Dalhousie and No. 10 Sherbrooke.

In men's volleyball, Trinity Western also tops the initial Top 10 for the second year in a row. The Spartans claimed their second straight CIS title last spring thanks to a 3-1 gold-medal victory over Laval.

The defending champs are 6-1 against CIS opponents in pre-season action and hope to resume their domination this weekend when they take part in the Dino Cup in Calgary. The Spartans also represented Canada in September at the under-23 Pan American Cup, finishing fourth after compiling a 2-3 record against the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Brazil and Argentina. TWU kicks off conference play on Oct. 26-27 with a home-and-away doubleheader versus No. 10 UBC.

Second-ranked Alberta, No. 3 Manitoba, No. 4 McMaster, No. 5 Laval, No. 6 Brandon, No. 7 Calgary, No. 8 UNB and No. 9 Saskatchewan round out the first national poll of the campaign.

In women's rugby, top-ranked StFX crushed St. Thomas 81-0 last Friday to improve to 7-0 in league play. The X-Women, who have outscored their rivals 593-3 in their first seven outings, close out the AUS schedule with a home tilt against Acadia (5-1) on Friday.

The rugby playoffs got under way in Ontario over the weekend with No. 2 Guelph, No. 3 Queen's and No. 10 Waterloo all winning their opening round matches.

In women's soccer, No. 1 Ottawa (14-0-1) blanked Carleton 5-0 and Trent 9-0 this past week and has now dominated its rivals 54-1 in OUA conference action. The Gee-Gees host No. 9 Queen's (10-2-2) Friday night in their regular season finale.

In men's soccer, top-ranked York improved to 12-0-1 with victories over UOIT, 2-0, and Brock, 3-2. The Lions will be busy in the final week of the OUA regular schedule with contests against No. 5 McMaster (11-1-1), Waterloo (1-11-2) and Laurier (5-4-5).

In women's hockey, No. 1 Calgary (4-0-0) beat UBC 5-2 last Friday and then survived its first scare of the young season the next night when superstar Hayley Wickenheiser scored in overtime to lift the reigning CIS champs to a 6-5 win over the Thunderbirds. The Dinos host Regina (2-2-0) for a pair this weekend.

In men's hockey, Alberta (3-1-0) moves past UNB (1-1-0) atop the rankings despite splitting a two-game set against CIS newcomer Mount Royal. The Golden Bears won the opener 3-1 before dropping the rematch by a 2-1 score. At the other end of the country, the Varsity Reds kicked off the AUS schedule with a 5-2 victory over St. Thomas and a 5-2 loss on home ice to Moncton. Top-ranked Alberta travels to Saskatoon this weekend for a doubleheader against No. 4 Saskatchewan (3-1-0), while UNB visits Saint Mary's (1-1-0) and No. 7 StFX (2-0-0). 

In cross-country running, Guelph leads both the women's and men's rankings for the fourth straight week. The Gryphons have captured the last seven national team banners in women's competition and have won six consecutive men's championships, both CIS record streaks.