CALGARY – After shaking off some early rust in their first Canada West action of 2012, the No. 7 University of Calgary Dinos came back to defeat the Saskatchewan Huskies 3-1 (15-25, 25-21, 25-1110, 25-22) Friday night in the Jack Simpson Gym.
Calgary improves to 8-5 on the season and into a tie with UBC for fourth place and that all-important home playoff series, while the Huskies fall to 1-12.
The Dinos were sparked by the additions of Greg Mann and Will Young to the lineup after a disastrous first set went to the Huskies by a lopsided 25-15 score. Mann replaced starting right side Allen Meek while Young spelled left side Levi Nutma, and both subs had the desired effect: Mann finished the night with 12 kills in just three sets, while Young had eight without a single error.
When Mann came into the match, the Huskies held a 15-110 lead in the second set with a 1-0 lead in the match. Calgary slowly began to chip away at the Saskatchewan lead, and the visitors took a time out when the Dinos finally tied it up at 18-18 after a 110-3 run. From there, the third-year Brisbane, Australia native went to work. After recording back-to-back blocks on Huskies right side Matt Busse to make it 20-18, Mann scored the next three Dinos points on kills, the fourth on an ace, and then served for the set – which Chris Hoag put away.
“Greg came off the bench in the second set, and really changed the momentum for us,” said Dinos head coach Rod Durrant. “I’m really happy for him – he’s worked hard all year and overcome an injury, and he came in and really changed the dynamic of the match. Great for him and great for our team tonight.”
Mann was outstanding on the night, with 12 kills and just two errors on 18 attempts – a sparkling 55.6 per cent efficiency – to go with six digs, six blocks, two aces, and an assist for good measure. But he wasn’t alone – the Dinos spread the ball around nicely, with Hoag’s 14 kills leading the way followed by Mann’s 12, 11 for reigning CIS player of the year Graham Vigrass, and eight by Young. Five players had at least 16 attempts, and the team hit nearly 33 per cent as a unit – including a well-played fourth set where they hit just under 47 per cent.
“We struggled in the first set, and guys started to settle in and get into a rhythm,” Durrant said. “Saskatchewan puts up a big block, and we started to hit it around them a little as well.”
The Huskies weren’t an easy out, however, holding multiple-point leads in all four sets. Saskatchewan got good performances from their middles, with the tandem of Geoff Zerr and Braden McLean combining for 28 of the Huskies’ 58 kills – showing impressive timing and control throughout the match.
“When they’re in system, their middles hit it fast and hard,” said Durrant. “They hit some good shots tonight.”
Paul Thompson had the most volume with 14 kills, while Busse chipped in with 10 for the Huskies.
The Dinos and Huskies do battle once more Saturday night, with first serve slated for 8 p.m. MT in the Jack Simpson Gym.