Mike Still, Bison Sports
WINNIPEG — The Manitoba Bisons carried the momentum from a marathon 32-30 first set win en route to a 3-0 (32-30, 25-14-25-19) win over the Winnipeg Wesmen on Friday night at Investors Group Athletic Centre.
"I just really liked how we stayed poised there," Bisons head coach Ken Bentley said, regarding his team's first set win.
"We fought and just kept playing. I thought emotionally we were in a really good place. They never wavered. That for me was the highlight of the match. Winnipeg was playing pretty well and we had to fend off some challenges."
The victory secured Manitoba their second tally in the 28th annual Duckworth Challenge, however it was simply a moral victory, as the Wesmen still won the challenge 3-2 after a win in men's volleyball earlier in the evening and a sweep in basketball on Thursday. Manitoba won the women's soccer match back in October.
Right side Kearley Abbott led the way with 15 kills, while Manitoba hit .205 as a team. Winnipeg was led by left side Emma Parker's 17 kills and .486 hitting percentage.
The first set was full of runs. Winnipeg got off to a 6-0 lead early thanks to the serving of left side/middle Kelysian Warmington as well as three kills from Parker — who leads the team in that category.
But the Bisons fought back with a big run of their own and led 16-15 at the technical timeout. Middle Allison Alcock and Abbott played a big role with multiple kills each and were both over a .350 hitting percentage.
Both sides jostled for momentum following the midway break, including 20 digs on both sides.
Parker registered five more kills — and had a .571 hitting percentage — while libero Madison Fyvie recorded five digs, including a few that kept long rallies going as the Wesmen came close to finishing off the set on multiple occasions, including leads of 27-26 and 28-27.
But the Bisons kept their composure, getting seven digs from libero Cassie Bujan as well as four kills from left side Laura Findlay. Fifth-year veteran Tori Studler and former Second-Team All-Star Kearley Abbott also locked in late, recording Manitoba's final four kills in a rigorous 32-30 win.
Manitoba maintained their momentum from the long first set, taking an early 10-3 lead off of more stellar hitting from Findlay and all-out effort from Bujan, who had two more diving digs.
But the Wesmen fought back, cutting the lead down to 16-11 at the technical timeout after five more impressive digs from Fyvie and four kills from Parker.
The visitors shot themselves in the foot late though, recording three straight errors to give the Bisons a 23-14 lead. Manitoba would close out the second courtesy of middle Jocelyn Koswin, who did a little bit of everything through two with three kills, two total blocks and a dig.
Manitoba raced out to a 16-8 lead at the technical timeout of set three, getting four massive service aces during that time — two from Abbott, one from setter Sydney Booker and one from Studler.
Winnipeg kept battling on the strength of Fyvie, libero/left side Jessica Andjelic and former Bison Kalena Schulz's 23 combined digs, but it wasn't enough, as Abbott tallied a few big kills late, including the game-winner for the 25-19 set win.
With the win, the Bisons advanced to 10-9 while Winnipeg fell to 4-15. Both teams are back at it tomorrow at the U of W, with a start time of 7 p.m.