Ben Matchett - Dinos Communications
CALGARY – The University of Calgary Dinos dug themselves a hole and fought gamely to get out of it but fell 3-1 to the University of Alberta Golden Bears in men's volleyball action Friday night in the Jack Simpson Gym (25-16, 25-16, 18-25, 29-27).
After dropping the first two sets by identical 25-16 scores to the powerful Golden Bears offence, the Dinos mounted a comeback in the third with a solid 25-18 win but were unable to extend the match to the fifth as the Bears took a 29-27 extra-points win.
The Bears improve to 12-3 on the season with the victory and maintain their second-place tie with Mount Royal in the Canada West standings, while loss was Calgary's first of 2019 after rattling off four straight wins to start the second half. The Dinos fall to 7-8 on the campaign.
The Golden Bears came out gangbusters, hitting 41 per cent in each of the first two sets while racking up 29 kills. In the first the Dinos could not stop Alex McMullin, who picked up seven of his 15 kills in the opening frame. In the second, McMullin added a pair of service aces among the five Alberta picked up in the stanza, neutralizing the Dinos' top offensive efficiency of the night to jump out to a 2-0 lead.
Liam Laidlaw led the Dinos' resurgence in the third set. The middle served four points each time he came up in the rotation, and the Dinos punctuated the set win with a pair of Laidlaw aces sandwiched between a pair of Blain Cranston/Mitchell Higgin blocks of McMullin, sending it to a fourth set.
There wasn't much to choose between the teams in the fourth, with Calgary hitting .244 against the Bears' .213 – but Taryq Sani took the reins for Alberta, pounding eight kills in the final set.
The Sani-McMullin tandem combined for 34 of the Bears' 55 kills on the night, with Sani's 19 leading the way.
Laidlaw was the most efficient Dino on the night, hitting better than 61 per cent to pick up nine kills along with four digs, two aces, and a whopping seven blocks. Tim Taylor was the Dinos' kill leader with 13, while Higgin added 10. Calgary held a 12.5-10 edge in total blocks, while the Golden Bears out-killed the Dinos by a 55-47 margin.
The Dinos and Bears will meet once more Saturday afternoon to wrap up their weekend series. First serve is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. in the Jack Simpson Gym, live on CanadaWest.tv.
Photo by David Moll