DAVID LARKINS, Wesmen Athletics
WINNIPEG — Daniel Thiessen admitted it felt good to get a big win at a critical time of the season.
That it came at the expense of their biggest rivals just added to the joy.
Thiessen had a match-high 16 kills and added seven digs and four blocks as the Winnipeg Wesmen men's volleyball team finished a home-and-home sweep of the Manitoba Bisons with a 3-0 (25-20, 25-18, 25-20) victory in a Canada West conference match Saturday at the Duckworth Centre.
The win gave a boost to the Wesmen's playoff hopes while simultaneously delivering a gut punch to the hopes of the Bisons, who have now lost four in a row, five out of their last six, and are suddenly below the Wesmen (7-11) in the chase for the final playoff spot in the conference.
The Bisons (7-13) close the season at Trinity Western, while the Wesmen have a road trip to UBC followed by two home matches against Alberta as they try to scrape together more wins to bolster their case for the post-season.
"It was pretty tough on our team to not have a win in the last two weekends," Thiessen said. "It feels great. We needed both of these wins for playoffs, and then any time you can beat U of M is a good time."
After rallying from a set down to win in five sets on Friday at U of M, the Wesmen were dominant on Saturday, hitting .545 in the second, .458 in the third and .337 for the match.
Bisons head coach Garth Pischke acknowledged the manner in which the Bisons dropped their last match may have had a residual impact when his team took the floor Saturday.
"I think it did and not just last night but our last three matches we lost real close ones and it just seemed that every time there was a close set we were losing it and eventually it just took its toll on us," Pischke said. "We mentally weren't in the game tonight. Credit to Winnipeg ... and they certainly deserved the win, but we didn't challenge them at all."
Kevin Negus led the Bisons with 12 kills, but Manitoba was only able to hit .124 for the match, which included -.044 in the first set. Dustin Spiring added seven kills.
Garrett Jones had nine kills on 13 swings with no errors for the Wesmen, who also got seven kills, eight digs and four blocks from Ethan Duncan.
Thiessen said his team welcomes the challenge ahead with UBC and Alberta.
"We're looking forward to it. We need some wins but we feel like we're getting better every day," he said.
Photo: David Larkins/Wesmen Athletics