Mike Still, Bison Sports
WINNIPEG — The Regina Cougars fought through two three-point deficits in the first set on route to a 3-0 win over the Manitoba Bisons on Friday night at Investors Group Athletic Centre.
The victory was Regina's ninth in a row, as they advanced to 15-8 on the season. Manitoba fell to 11-10.
It was a well-balanced attack for the visitors, who got ten kills from outside hitter Ashlee Sanford and eight kills on a .500 hitting percentage from middle Emma Matheson. Manitoba was led by left side Laura Findlay with eight kills.
Regina trailed 7-4 early on in the first set, but would bounce back to take a 16-12 lead at the technical timeout on the strength of five unanswered points. Outside hitter Jessica Lerminiaux was key during the run with three kills while middle Emma Matheson had a service ace.
But the Bisons responded in the back half of the set, going up by three again at 20-17. Findlay played a big role with two kills, two service aces and seven digs, while five different players had at least two kills.
The Cougars stormed back however, recording five straight points to eventually win the first set 25-22. Sandiford — who leads the team kills per set with 3.25 — was massive in helping the visitors gain sustained momentum and had five kills overall.
"We lost the set," Bisons head coach Ken Bentley said postgame.
"We lost the set off errors on our side. We just made a couple of poor mistakes that cost us, to not at least have [Regina] play the ball and then were back on the rally. Give credit to Regina, they played really well, that's not taking anything away from them, but we certainly didn't help our cause on our side."
Regina took an early lead in the second set and didn't surrender it in an impressive 25-17 win.
Matheson and Brookyn Reynolds caused absolute havoc from the middle position with six combined kills and three total blocks. Manitoba got a spirited performance from middle Jocelyn Koswin, who had four total blocks and two kills, while libero Cassie Bujan had seven digs on a few long rallies, but it wasn't enough.
The Cougars raced to a 16-6 lead at the technical timeout of the third set and once again wouldn't relinquish their momentum. Reynolds added four more kills while setter Satomi Togawa had ten assists. Regina also hit .314 as a team.
Manitoba was able to cut Regina's lead to as little as three at 19-16 thanks to two big kills from Findlay, however the visitors responded with a service ace and kill from Lerminiaux to preserve a 25-18 win.
Both sides will be back at it tomorrow at 5 p.m.