The No. 2 ranked University of Alberta Golden Bears squeaked out another close 3-2 (25-21, 22-25, 20-25, 27-25, 15-11) victory over the University of Saskatchewan Huskies Saturday night at the PAC in Saskatoon.
Throughout all five sets, the Golden Bears and Huskies matched each other point-for-point mirroring a night earlier when five sets were also needed to decide the match. After Alberta claimed victory in the first, the Huskies rallied to take the next two. The Golden Bears claimed the match with wins in the fourth and fifth sets.
Mitch Irvine was stellar for the Golden Bears’ offence tallying a match-high 26 kills and .375 hitting percentage in the victory. Taylor Hunt added another 18 for the Golden Bears. Jarron Mueller recorded 53 assists in the victory, while Erik Mattson and Mueller each had 10 digs.
Bryan Fraser and Matthew Busse each tallied 18 kills for the Huskies. Chris Gilbert recorded 48 assists and seven digs. Middle blockers Geoffrey Zerr and Braden McLean combined for five stuff blocks.
With the win Alberta remains perfect on the season with a 4-0 record, while the Huskies drop to 1-5.
Saskatchewan and Alberta matched each other point-for-point in the first set. Two straight blocks by the Golden Bears gave Alberta the lead for good. The Huskies took another point but Alberta scored the next three to take the set 25-21.
The Huskies held a 12-7 lead in the second set after a Fraser kill couldn’t be dug up by the Golden Bears. Alberta battled back to tie the game at 13 by spreading the offence around the court with kills by Hunt, Matt McCreary and Jay Olmstead. Saskatchewan took the next two points and were the first to 16 in the set. Three Fraser kills and a Braden McLean block led the Huskies to a 25-22 win.
Saskatchewan jumped out to a lead in the third set but a long rally resulting in a Hunt kill that landed just inbounds notched the game at 14. The Huskies pulled away after a Ryley Barnes service error to win 25-20.
Alberta went ahead 19-18 on an Irvine kill that landed just inbounds in the fourth set. Hunt made the game 20-18 with an attack the Huskies couldn’t dig up. An attack error and a ball handling error by Hunt brought the Huskies back to a 22 tie and a kill that landed just inside the line put the Huskies ahead 23-22. But Alberta played strong defence and a net error gave the Golden Bears the 27-25 win.
The Golden Bears were the first to eight points in the final set after a Fraser ball handling error. Irvine froze the Huskies with an attack straight down the middle and continued to keep the momentum taking the 15-11 victory.
The Huskies hit the road to face the UBC Thunderbirds next weekend, while the Golden Bears return home to host the Winnipeg Wesmen.