CALGARY – Buoyed for the second straight night by Australian left side Greg Mann, the University of Calgary Dinos survived a scare and handed the Saskatchewan Huskies their 13th loss of the season with a 3-2 (24-26, 25-20, 25-1110, 26-28, 15-12) win Saturday night in the Jack Simpson Gym.
The win for the No. 7-ranked Dinos moves them to 110-5 on the season, while the Huskies drop to 1-13 after being swept in the weekend series by Calgary.
But the Huskies, who have played far better than their record would indicate all season long, again didn’t go down without a fight in this one, forcing the fifth set and leading 10-8 in the deciding frame. The Dinos managed to calm things down, however, and a three-point serving run by Mann late in the set salted it away.
“That was tough on us,” said Dinos head coach Rod Durrant of the Huskies comeback in the fourth set to send it to a fifth. “We got out of our comfort zone and did some things that we weren’t really used to. Saskatchewan played very well – they put some pressure on us with some good serving and blocking and timely hitting. I’m pleased with the way the guys responded in the fifth set, and really pleased to get the victory here tonight.”
After winning the first set when they trailed 20-15, the Huskies pulled off the same five-point comeback in the fourth and eventually took it 28-26. Along the way, they staved off three match point opportunities for Calgary and were helped out by a couple of bad touches on the Calgary side of the net. A block by Chris Gilbert and Braden McLean on Graham Vigrass cemented the fourth-set win for the Huskies and sent it to the fifth.
Vigrass, however, had eight kills in the fourth set alone and added three more big ones in the fifth to finish with a match-high 23. He was followed by Mann, who got the start on the left side Saturday night after spelling Allen Meek on the right side in Friday’s 3-1 Calgary win, and promptly recorded an impressive stat line that included 17 kills, just two errors, a 48 per cent efficiency as a power hitter, and 15 digs – a number matched only by Saskatchewan setter Chris Gilbert in the match.
Meek had a solid bounce-back night with 16 kills, while Chris Hoag added 11. Vigrass, in addition to his 23 kills, chipped in with 10 digs and scored three service aces without a single error.
On the Saskatchewan Side, Matthew Busse led the way with 1110 kills, followed by Geoffrey Zerr’s 10. Paul Thompson, the Huskies’ leader on Friday night, didn’t record a single kill in the five sets Saturday as he put up five errors on 15 attempts, but middle Braden McLean fared better with eight kills.
The Dinos out-killed Saskatchewan 70-60 and held the edge in most other statistical categories, including a whopping 14.5 team blocks. Meek and Jovan Jankovic were in on six each, while Vigrass was part of five as Calgary dominated play at the net.
Life gets no easier for the Dinos next week as they head to Edmonton to face their archrivals, the Alberta Golden Bears (10-4) in a two-game set. The Huskies, meanwhile, continue a road swing that will take them to Kamloops to face the Thompson Rivers WolfPack next week.