The U of M Bisons men’s volleyball team continued its unexpected run toward the post-season on the weekend. The herd swept aside the winless UBC Okanagan Heat to snag a playoff position in the standings.
The Bisons beat the Heat 3-1 Friday to open the series at the Investors Group Athletic Centre.
Brendan Warren tied a Canada West record with 16 blocks in the match.
“It’s pretty cool, pretty special. I’m excited,” said Warren.
“I [have] Jack [Mandryk] beside me, that helps,” he said. “We put up a solid block and we had some good bounces tonight.”
Mandryk had 11 blocks in the match, combining with Warren on multiple occasions.
Ten errors and a negative hitting percentage sunk the visiting Heat in the opening set.
An early four point run put the herd up 7-2, ending with a Kevin Negus block. Owen Schwartz connected on three kills in the set and Manitoba combined for three blocks en route to a 25-19 set win.
The Heat took an 8-5 lead in the second set, but the Bisons strung together six points to take an 11-8 lead. The teams exchanged attacks throughout the remainder of the set, but the visitors took it 25-23.
Dustin Spiring led Manitoba with four kills in the set.
Negus powered down eight kills, leading the home team to a 27-26 lead in the third set. An attacking error by the Heat gave the Bisons a 28-26 win.
In the final set, two early blocks by Mandryk and Warren energized the Manitoba fans. The Bisons ran with the momentum to a 16-9 lead at the technical timeout. The Bisons brick wall provided more blocks and the team powered to a 25-14 set win to take the match.
The Bisons took Saturday’s match 3-1 keeping the Heat winless at 0-16 on the year.
Negus slammed down a game-high 20 kills for Manitoba and Schwartz got down for a game-high 14 digs. Brennan Goski led the visiting team with 14 kills in the match.
Manitoba dominated the first frame while UBC Okanagan struggled with discipline. The visitors committed seven errors in the set and Spiring pounded down four kills to lead the herd to a 25-12 first set win.
Spiring had a big presence in the second set as well and connected on five kills, while Negus slammed down an additional four in the frame.
The strong Bisons offence was too much and the home team won the set 25-21.
Manitoba had trouble finishing rallies in the third set and UBC Okanagan took advantage to win 25-21.
The win gave the Heat some fire and they left it all out on the court in the fourth set.
The fourth frame was a gruelling battle with both teams showcasing their power. The two teams combined for 41 kills in the frame. Negus killed an impressive 10 balls in the set, while Goski kept the visitors close with six kills.
Manitoba was down 8-7 early in the set but a service error by the Heat brought the two sides even. Negus scored a kill and the Bisons strung together four more points to take a 13-8 lead.
However, the visitors battled back and a Goski kill tied the game at 24.
The teams exchanged looks until a Goski kill put the Heat up 31-30 late in the set. Negus responded with a kill of his own and Mandryk followed suit.
The Bisons finally won the set 33-31 to take the match.
Manitoba improves to 6-8 with the win and a playoff spot at eighth in the conference.
The Bisons will be on the road next weekend, in Saskatoon to take on the University of Saskatchewan Huskies. Game one is Jan. 18 at 8 p.m. CST and game two is Jan. 19 at 8 p.m. CST.