DAVID LARKINS, Wesmen Athletics
WINNIPEG — The Mount Royal Cougars are off to the hottest start in their program's history, while the Winnipeg Wesmen are still trying to find their footing.
The Cougars got 25 kills from Tyler Schmidt, the nation's leading attacker and the Cougars improved to 7-2 with a 3-0 (27-25, 25-21, 25-23) win over the Wesmen in a Canada West men's volleyball match Friday at the Duckworth Centre.
Schmidt's total was the second highest in Canada West this season for a three-set match and it allowed the Cougars to continue on their hottest start since they joined Canada West in 2012-13. Two seasons ago the Cougars started 6-2 before losing their next two and finishing 13-11.
The Wesmen got six kills each from Ethan Duncan and Adrian Dyck, but hit .101 as a team, their second-lowest output of the season.
The Wesmen, meanwhile, fell to 2-5 on the season as they try to find a formula that will cure what is currently ailing head coach Larry McKay's team.
"It's not some-thing, it was the entire game," McKay said. "We have to play better volleyball. There's too many errors. I think (the team) thinks they should be playing better volleyball."
Trent Mounter added 10 kills for Mount Royal, which staved off a respectable Wesmen rally in the third set to seal the match. The Cougars led 17-13 before the Wesmen got kills from Duncan, William Racano and Daniel Thiessen, and then an MRU error, to pull to 17-17.
The Cougars also had to hold off a Wesmen surge in the first set when Winnipeg won four straight points after the technical timeout to pull even at 16. The teams played side-out volleyball the rest of the way until a Matt Saly kill and a Dyck error back-to-back gave the Cougars the decisive points.
"It's real simple: We have a really quality serve-receive; a fifth-year setter and a fifth-year right side and a lot of fifth-year leadership," MRU head coach Shawn Sky said. "It comes down to the serve-pass game. We passed pretty well tonight. I thought they were the better serve team tonight, but our passing held up and we did enough serving to put them in trouble."
The teams meet again Saturday with a 5 p.m. CT first serve.
Photo: David Larkins/Wesmen Athletics