WINNIPEG — The No. 10 ranked Winnipeg Wesmen shook off a straight set loss on Friday and came back strong on Saturday, beating Bisons men’s volleyball in four sets (25-18, 25-16, 15-25, 25-16).
Besides a let-up in the third set, Winnipeg’s block was central to its victory, as the team put up a wall on Manitoba’s top hitters — finishing with ten blocks as a team. The Bisons, who tried spreading the wealth but couldn’t grip momentum, were led by eight kills from Ben Carleton, seven each from Darian Koskie and Spencer Grahame, and six from Brendan Warren.
The Wesmen had 14 kills from Nigel Nielsen, four of those before the first technical timeout, to lead the way. Canada West top hitter Daniel Thiessen and Eric Dornez both had an efficient 13 kills each, on 25 and 22 attacks respectively.
The win improves Winnipeg to 5-3 while the Bisons fall to 4-4.
In a match where none of the sets were closely contested, Nielsen’s hot start provided separation for Winnipeg early in the first. The team looked much sharper with their passing than the previous night right from the get-go, as a powerful Nielsen kill late put them up 23-17 on their way to a 25-18 set win.
The Wesmen kept rolling in the second. While three early service errors kept the Bisons in the fight, the aggression would balance out in the end. Winnipeg had a 3-0 run with Thiessen on serve, including an ace, which put them up 14-11. Shortly after, a massive stuff block by William Racano made the lead six — which proved to be out of reach.
Momentum shifted in the third. Manitoba recaptured some of their Friday form, with setter Jack Mandryk (29 assists) establishing transition offence to Carleton and Grahame ahead of Winnipeg’s block. Libero Mathieu Lavoie provided an emotional spark as well, as Manitoba went into the technical timeout up 16-7 and wouldn’t look back, winning the set 25-15.
The Wesmen, though, would see another player step up to wrestle control back early in the fourth. Matt Klysh’s stuff block on Grahame at 5-2 energized the visitors. Then, on his service game, an ace from Klysh pushed the lead up to 11-6. Just like that, the Wesmen block started to roll again, as Winnipeg would finish the match running away — 25-16 in the fourth.
After holiday break, the next match for both these teams will be against each other, in a much-anticipated Duckworth Challenge matchup at IGAC on Friday, January 21.
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