Matt Johnson, Huskie Athletics
SASKATOON - The University of Saskatchewan Huskies women's volleyball team snapped a three-game losing skid on You Can Play Night as they came out with a 3-0 (25-23, 25-19, 25-14) win over the Manitoba Bisons to pick up a series split on Saturday, Jan. 19 inside the PAC.
"If we play like we did tonight, we can play with anybody," said Huskies head coach Mark Dodds. "The energy and the body language that we had was so different tonight, and that plays a big factor into a match."
After entering the matchup with wins in six of their past seven games, including a straight sets victory over Saskatchewan the previous night, the Huskies were able to slow the down the red-hot Bisons with a dominant performance.
Emily Koshinsky had a game-high 14 kills on the night for Saskatchewan. Taylor Annala and Olivia Mattern each chipped in eight kills of their own.
Jocelyn Koswin led the way for Manitoba, as she picked up nine kills for the visitors. Cassie Bujan entered the weekend as the Canada West leader in digs and picked up a game-high 21 more.
Saskatchewan was more efficient on the night with a .257 hitting percentage, compared to Manitoba's .117 clip.
The Huskies rise their record to 7-11 with the win, while the Bisons slide back to the .500 mark at 9-9 with the loss.
Manitoba was ready to play out of the get-go as they hopped out to a quick 7-3 lead. However, Saskatchewan narrowed the margin and clawed back into the game off the back of consecutive kills from Mattern.
A spectacular first frame from Brooke Listwin carried the Huskies into the technical timeout with the lead. Listwin stood strong and provided consecutive thunderous blocks to give Saskatchewan a 14-13 lead, then recorded a kill and service ace to make the score 16-15 for the home side.
However, after a booming kill from Koshinsky, the Bisons responded with three consecutive points of their own, two of which came from hard swing from Tori Studler. After each team continued to trade points and the set locked in a 22-22 tie, Koshinsky delivered a powerful spike to break the deadlock.
Laura Findlay responded with a kill of her own to tie the frame back up but Annala dropped in a beautiful net-attack to make it set point. Annala followed that winner with a monstrous block to give the Huskies the opening set by a score of 25-23.
Koshinsky led the way for the Huskies in the frame with five kills, while Koswin recorded four kills of her own for the Bisons.
The Huskies continued to build off the momentum from their opening set win, as Mandi Fraser's service ace made it 14-9 for the home side in the second set. After each team continued to exchange points, Kearley Abbott cut the Saskatchewan lead to two by finessing a ball over the Saskatchewan blockers.
However, rookies recorded three consecutive points for the Huskies, as Fraser provided two kills with Mattern chipping in one of her own to make it 21-17. Fraser stuffed Koswin continuing her strong night and giving Saskatchewan a 23-18 lead. Moments later, Koshinsky's kill made it set point for the home side, and the frame was closed out by a Kelsey Jordan attack error, to give the Huskies a 25-19 set victory.
Saskatchewan was dominant offensively with a .324 hitting percentage and Koshinsky leading the way with another five kills in the frame. Abbott and Koswin each recorded three kills in the set for the visitors.
The Huskies came out of the break with their eyes locked in on a three-set sweep, as they hopped out to a 9-6 lead. Saskatchewan then went on an 8-1 run, to make it 17-7, with Fraser chipping in two service aces during the stretch. The home side continued their dominance, as Mattern and Fraser continued the rookie showcase as the pair of freshmen combined for three kills in the late going, which led to match point. Brooke Listwin tallied her seventh kill of the night which made the score 25-15 and sealed the victory for the Huskies.
"It was a solid game; we played really well. One of our weaknesses this year has been in the service game, and we only gave up one ace today," said Dodds. "The goal this week is going to be to try and keep that team continuity going and the energy that we have right now into next weekend."
Saskatchewan will look to build on their momentum from the win when they travel to Edmonton to take on the Alberta Pandas. Meanwhile, Manitoba will enjoy a bye week, before getting back into action on Feb. 1, as they open up a home-and-home against the Winnipeg Wesmen.