Kayla Kievits, Cougar Athletics
CALGARY - The Mount Royal Cougars men's volleyball team opened their home season hosting the Winnipeg Wesmen on the Kenyon Court. It was a close match, but ultimately the Wesmen came out on top winning three sets to two. The Wesmen took the first two sets, both with a final score of 25-22. Stepping up when they needed it most the Cougars fought back for the next two victories. The third set had a final score of 25-22 and the fourth 25-23. In a nail-biter of a fifth set, the teams went back and forth point for point. Wesmen took the win on a tip for a final score of 16-14.
There is no doubt that the Cougars star attacker was outside hitter Schmidt, scoring a total of 30 kills in the five sets. Following his lead was outside hitter Friesen with a total of seven. The team had a total of 16 blocks, the most touches going to Gieske, getting his hands up for seven of the 16 blocks. The Cougars finished the match with a serving percentage of 0.835. Friesen and Newman both with perfect serving percentages.
The Winnipeg Wesmen put up a total of eight blocks, Jones assisting in half with hands on four of the eight. Jones also led the team in kills with a total of 16. Following close behind on offence Duncan and Bomersbach both racked up 14 kills throughout the five sets. The two teams played dead even when looking at serving percentages, as the Wesmens' total was 0.836, Picklyk and Teetaert both with perfect serving percentages of 1.00.
The first set of the night started with Wesmens' Clegg serving. They quickly took a three-point lead before Cougars Friesen put a ball off the hands of the blockers from the outside. Friesen continued to show a strong presence on offence bringing the Cougars back within one point. However Friesen's most memorable play of the night came when he was blocked from the right side, but the ball bounced off his head landing on the Wesmens' side. At the technical time out the score remained within one, with Wesmen leading 16-15. Both Jones and Duncan from the Wesmen dominated from the middle, attacking and putting up a block. Ultimately it was Wemens' Howe who scored the winning point on a kill from the outside 25-22.
The second set had similar results. Cougars Saly set the tone serving an ace early in the set. The Wesmen slowly pulled ahead, Bommersbach served an ace giving a four-point lead, 16-12 at the technical timeout. Friesen continued to be a strong offensive threat for the Cougars. When Cougars Schmidt made a service error it gave the Wesmen a chance to extend their lead. Setter Clegg moved the ball around, making their kills unpredictable. The Wesmen won the second set on an attack error from Cougars Schmidt, with a final score of 25-22.
Down by two sets, Cougars Schmidt came out swinging in the third. Both teams struggled with service, as ball after ball went into the net or out the back. Both teams showed an incredible amount of hustle as they scrambled to keep the ball in play. At the technical timeout, the Cougars had pulled ahead 16-14. Cougars Saly made the save of the game pancaking a tip over the hands of the blockers. When the Cougars were first to reach 20 the Wesmen called a timeout. The Cougars didn't let the timeout break their focus extending their lead 22-18. Wesmens' Duncan put up a huge block, but it wasn't enough to stop the Cougars from winning 25-22.
The Wesmen once again took an early lead in the fourth set, forcing Cougars coach to call a timeout as they were up 9-5. The score at the technical timeout was 16-8, however, Cougars regained control after a service error from Jones. The Cougars slowly caught up after multiple kills from Schmidt, making it a one-point game at 20-21. Two attack errors from the Wesmen allowed Cougars to take the lead and the set at 25-23.
With two sets each, the teams entered a fifth to battle for the match-win. The set was close, going point for point as both teams put up kill after kill. The Cougars were the first to reach eight, switching sides with a score of 8-7. The Wesmen took the lead when Thiessen served an ace. From here it was a tight match. The teams tied at 14, but the Wesmen scored the final two points with two kills from Duncan.
Although the Cougars fell short of the win, it was a strong showing for the home opening weekend. Fourth-year player Lachlan Polson said, "Today's game went better then yesterdays. Having the younger guys come out and play added to the team energy." The Cougars play again on Nov. 3-4 at UBC Okanagan. They are back on Kenyon Court Nov. 10-11 to face Regina.