Alyssa Etsell, Bison Sports
WINNIPEG — The Thompson Rivers Wolfpack plucked a 3-1 (25-14, 15-25, 29-27, 30-28) win on the road on Friday night (Jan. 4) after a late-in-the-game battle against the Manitoba Bisons at the Investors Group Athletic Centre.
After the WolfPack dominated in the first set (25-14), it looked like an easy win for the visitors, but the Bisons answered in the second (25-15) and set up the battle that was to be the third and fourth sets.
"We had a good lead early in the third, but just kind of threw it away on poor mistakes. We had lots of chances to win three and four, it was our side that determined that," said Bison head coach Ken Bentley. "You can't ask for more chances than that to win at this level, you just can't."
Thompson Rivers led in the fourth set from the start, but the Herd crawled back to tie the game at seven. From that point on, it seemed every point was a victory in and of itself. Halfway through the set, the Bisons held a two-point lead at 16-14 and surged from there to 20-15. The WolfPack never ceased and the set tied at 23. After back-and-forth one-point leads, two huge blocks by Thompson Rivers pushed the final set score to 30-28 and the game to a 3-1 win for the visitors.
With the win, TRU's record improves to 6-7, while the Bisons record falls to 5-8.
WolfPack head coach Chad Grimm says the win feels good, especially in this league and especially on the road.
"[The game is] kind of what I expected from both teams, there was a lot of up and down coming out of the break, no one is super stable yet so it was nice that we had some good finishes in the last two sets to take care of it," said Grimm.
Early in the third, a five-point streak for the Bisons drove the score up to 7-1. That wasn't the case for long as the WolfPack's momentum picked up and their surge tied the set at 10. For the rest of the set, neither team held a solid lead, driving the score well past 25 points. A kill by TRU's Olga Savenchuk sniped a set win for Thompson Rivers at 29-27.
Manitoba hit at a percentage of 0.076, while the visiting WolfPack hit at 0.173.
In the second, the tables turned with a ten-point lead set win for the Herd (25-15). A receiving error by TRU off a Kearley Abbott pass out the home team within set point and a successful block by Kelsey Jordan snatched the second set for the Bisons.
Olga Savenchuk scored 25 kills for Thompson Rivers, while Bison K. Abbott tallied a total of 11 kills for her team.
A series of errors by Manitoba and several perfectly executed kills by Thompson Rivers saw a first set thoroughly dominated by the WolfPack. Back-to-back blocking errors by the home team led to a TRU win, 25-14. Of the home team's 14 points, Tori Studler personally racked up a total of 10 kills, with Hali Drezet chocking up 12 for the visitors.
On who will win tomorrow's match-up, Grimm says: "There are going to be a lot of big rallies on both sides again, just because there aren't a lot of big terminators on either side of the court. It'll just be who is disciplined and who is more consistent in their job and obviously the serve-and-pass game is always vital."
Both teams will battle each other again tomorrow, Saturday afternoon (Jan. 5). The match starts at 5 p.m. CST at the Investors Group Athletic Centre, and you can catch it live online at CanadaWest.TV.