KINGSTON, Ont. (ISN) – The second-seeded Manitoba Bisons were pushed to the brink in their CIS men’s volleyball championship quarter-final against the No. 7 Western Mustangs, but ultimately prevailed in a closely contested five-set match in the Main Gym of the Queen’s ARC, Friday afternoon.

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First-team all-Canadian Dane Pischke of Winnipeg was named player of the match for the Bisons as he led the Canada West silver medallists past the Mustangs, the OUA finalists, 25-22, 25-27, 25-17, 22-25 and 19-17. Manitoba advances to Saturday’s first semifinal against the No. 3 Laval Rouge et Or.

Pischke was one of Manitoba’s top producers across the board as he led the Bisons with 17 kills, 10 digs, six blocks and a service ace.

Western moves to the consolation side where they will take on the No. 6 Calgary Dinos on Saturday at 1 p.m. Mustangs player of the game Garrett May of Scarborough, Ont., had a game-high 26 kills and chipped in 11 digs, five blocks and a service ace.

“A 19-17 fifth set game, obviously it couldn’t get much closer than that” said Pischke. “It was a really good first game in this CIS tournament even though we came out a little slower than we liked but eventually built up our momentum.”

Despite the loss Western Mustangs head coach Jim Sage acknowledges the compete level that his players put forth on the court.

“Honestly I couldn’t be more proud of my players and how they competed. We knew Manitoba was going to be a handful and once the game got to five set it can go either way.” said head coach Sage after the loss. “What I wanted out of my players was to compete and leave it on the floor and that’s exactly what they did.”

The Mustangs came out strong to start the first set and jumped out to a lead over the Bisons. However, Manitoba kept them close and took a 14-12 lead after three service aces from Chris Voth of Winnipeg. Manitoba entered the technical timeout with a 16-12 lead after three consecutive blocks from Joseph Brooks of Toronto.

Manitoba was strong on the attack after the technical timeout, jumping out to a 23-16 lead after the break. The Mustangs battled back, picking up six of the next seven points and narrowing the gap to 24-22. The Bisons closed out the first half with the point they were looking for to take a 1-0 lead.

The Mustangs came out of the gate strong once again in the second, taking a 7-4 lead to start the set and continued to pick up points while holding off the Bisons. They entered the technical timeout with a 16-12 lead.

The Bisons began to mount a comeback as they reeled the Mustangs in after the break. Manitoba drew even with Western at 19 points apiece, before the squads traded points back and forth down the stretch. Manitoba broke Western’s set point advantage twice to make the score 24-24 and 25-25 before Western finally broke through to take the second set 27-25.

Manitoba used some excellent serving to their advantage in the third set as they jumped out to a 5-0 lead after the break, forcing Western to take a timeout. The Bisons continued their strong play and increased their lead to 10-3 before the Mustangs began to push back. Western took five of the next six points in the set to make the score 11-8 which forced Manitoba to take a timeout. The Bisons rebounded after the timeout and went into the technical timeout leading 16-11.

The Bisons picked up where they left off after the technical timeout and controlled the play with their attack. Big hits from Voth and key digs from libero Derek Nieroda of Headingley, Man., led the Bisons to a 25-17 set win.

The squads went point for point to start the set, and found themselves even at eight points apiece. An ace from Mathieu Poulin of Winnipeg tipped the momentum in favour of the Mustangs, as they increased their lead to 13-8. Manitoba chipped away at the Western lead but not before the Mustangs brought the set to the technical timeout with a 16-13 lead. Manitoba’s Pishcke was shown a yellow card during the sequence.

The Bisons reeled the Mustangs in after the timeout, evening up the score at 18 apiece after several thrilling rallies. The Mustangs regrouped after a timeout, and took four of the next five points in the set to move out to a 22-19 lead before Manitoba called a timeout of their own. The Bisons got within two but couldn’t close the gap further than that as the Mustangs took the set by a 25-22 score.

The Mustangs got off to a good start in the fifth set as they earned the first three points and forced Manitoba to call a timeout. The Bisons battled back after the break and tied the set at four points apiece after a long rally. Another Voth aces gave the Bisons their first lead of the set and forced Western to burn a timeout of their own. After more back and forth between the two teams, two big blocks gave the Bisons an 8-6 lead as they went into the technical timeout.

Several big hits found their way into the middle of the court for the Bisons as their attack led them to a 12-9 advantage over the Mustangs who called a timeout. Two quick points after the break for Western forced Manitoba’s hand as they called a timeout of their own.

After the timeout, the two teams went point for point and broke each other’s set point opportunities in a heated tiebreaker. The Bisons eventually prevailed by a 19-17 margin after a Western attack sailed out of bounds.