This weekend, the Bison volleyball teams were tasked with playing the University of Alberta. Both the men and women’s volleyball team are ranked number one in the country. The fifth-ranked men managed to sweep the Bears, while the women battled hard but were unable to come up with a win this weekend.
On Friday, the Bisons jumped out to quick starts in each of the first sets, and even though they lost the opening set, the Bisons stormed back to win 3-1. Devren Dear was back on top of the kill count for the Bisons and hammered home 16 on the night, including some key attacks to maintain the lead for the herd.
The Bisons put on their best against this tough Alberta team but were able to get the win with some great discipline. The Bisons only registered 13 errors on the night, while the Golden Bears had 25. Adam DeJonckheere was forced to leave in the second set, which set the stage for Scott Vercaigne to step in. He played well in the absence of DeJonckheere and smacked seven kills.
Setter Luke Herr was clutch for the Bisons early on. He made some athletic dives to keep rallies alive for the home side, and it paid off with the win. He had a team-best seven digs on the night.
The Bisons swept Golden Bears in exciting fashion on Saturday with a, 3-2 victory.
The first set, like the whole match, was very back and forth. The home side was able to score four unanswered points early due to a couple of attacking errors by Alberta, and never looked back from there. The Golden Bears flirted with tying the game multiple times, but Manitoba never gave it up and won the set 25-23.
Alberta came out much stronger in the second set, as they took an early 11-4 lead over the hosts. Vercaigne had back-to-back kills late in the set, but it was too late as the visitors held onto set number two.
Manitoba got momentum back in the third set as they took an early 12-6 lead and ran with it. The herd went on to win the set 25-19. After a hard-fought fourth set, Alberta managed to send the game to a fifth and final set.
In the fifth set Manitoba never trailed, as Alberta’s serving errors and Ken Rooney’s game-winning kill, gave the Bisons a 15-8 set victory. The Bisons swept the Bears and have now won six straight games.
“Confidence is going to be very huge,” Bisons head coach Garth Pischke said after the game. “We just defeated a very, very strong team, and probably the best program in the country for the last 10-15 years.”
On Friday, the Bisons managed to win the first set by a close 25-23 margin, but that was the only set they would win all weekend. The Pandas took a closely contested second set 25-22 and mopped up in the third by a score of 25-14. The Pandas sealed the deal with a 25-21 fourth set victory.
The Pandas were too much for the Bisons to handle, as every single one of their attacks were finished off with lethal precision. The Bisons were caught scrambling many times and were unable to come away with any type of momentum.
Saturday was another tough loss for Manitoba, losing 3-0. They lost their fourth consecutive game, with their record dropping to 2-6.
The visitors controlled the majority of the contest, and made quick work of the herd. Alberta was able to slam down 40 kills, while the home side was only able to hit 24. A positive note that Manitoba can take from this match was that they were much better and very competitive in the final set.
In the final set, Manitoba came out with a lot more energy, but were unable to win it. The herd held a 22-20 lead, before giving up five straight points and falling 25-22 in the final set.
“I think we realized we played with an energy you have to play with at this level,” Bisons head coach Jon Hykawy said postgame. “I was happy with the energy we had in the third set, and if we win that set who knows what happens.”
The Bison volleyball teams are on a bye next week and will be back in action on Dec. 2-3 when they take on the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon.