Kellen Forrest; Dinos Communications
CALGARY – After losing in four sets in the series opener Friday, the No. 9 University of Calgary Dinos paid back the sixth-ranked University of Alberta Golden Bears with a four set win of their own in the Jack Simpson Gym on Saturday night (25-20, 19-25, 25-20, 25-19).
In what Dinos Head Coach Rod Durrant described as his team's "most complete game of the season," the Dinos were firing on all cylinders, taking it to one of the top teams in the country. The teams would split the first two sets, and then the Dinos would close it out in four, taking the third and fourth sets by scores of 25-20 and 25-19 respectively.
It was the Dinos' first regular season win over Alberta since Jan. 18, 2014, and the first home win against the Bears since all the way back in 2002. The Dinos improve to 8-8 on the season, while the Golden Bears drop to third place with a record of 12-4.
The Dinos came out like they had something to prove in the first set led by Tim Taylor, who had six of his team-high 12 kills in the first set. A 3-0 run to get to the technical timeout, which was punctuated by a huge block by Blain Cranston and Liam Laidlaw on Alex McMullin, gave the Dinos the cushion they needed to take the first set 25-19.
In the second set, the Bears would battle back, out-killing the Dinos 13-9, as well as adding two service aces. The Bears would also hold the Dinos to a 0.036 hitting percentage in the frame, which was by far the lowest by the Calgary squad on the night.
The third and fourth sets were almost mirror images of each other, as in the beginning of both sets, it was a back-and-forth affair, with neither team being able to take more than a one point lead. However, the Dinos would go on 7-2 run midway through the third set, and a 8-2 run in the middle of the fourth set, to give them the cushion they needed to close finish the job. Both sets were also finished by emphatic Laidlaw kills.
When asked about how his team rebounded from the previous night's loss, Durrant was impressed with his team's effort. "That's what you have to do in this league. You have to continue to improve each night, and that's what we were able to do tonight."
Laidlaw was a star for the Dinos, tied for second on the team in kills with eight while hitting at an .800 clip. Cranston was his usual steady self, leading the team in both assists and digs with 37 and 12, respectively.
The Golden Bears duo of McMullin and Taryq Sani were solid again for the Golden Bears, as McMullin contributed 12 kills, while Sani had a team high 13.
The Dinos will enjoy a well-deserved bye weekend, before they head up to Edmonton to take on the MacEwan Griffins in a back-to-back affair Feb. 1-2. Alberta returns home to host the Saskatchewan Huskies next weekend on Jan. 25-26.
Photo by David Moll