Huskies dominant in another straight-sets win over Griffins

For the second time in as many days the University of Saskatchewan Huskies men’s volleyball team controlled the proceedings from beginning to end in a 3-0 (25-17, 26-24, 25-15) win over the MacEwan Griffins in Edmonton, AB.

It was as if that second set was the only true moment the Griffins had a chance to make some noise in the match. They were never really in Sets 1 or 3, so letting their best chance of the match slip away in Set 2 was too devastating to overcome.

Saskatchewan head coach Nathan Bennett noted his team’s ability to close out Set 2 was a big takeaway for a team that wasn’t as composed in two losses at Brandon in the opening weekend of the Canada West season.

“Today, especially, I liked the second set,” he said. “Getting into that 23-23 score-line and how they emotionally were able to be confident and calm. I think that was important, where in Brandon we were all over the map like a roller-coaster ride.

“I thought that was a good moment for us to build off of, for sure.”

With the result, the Huskies move back to .500 at 2-2, while the Griffins fall to 2-4 with their fourth-straight loss.

As for why Saskatchewan dominated on Saturday, there’s a bit of evidence on either side. The Huskies had more digs, more blocks, more kills and a sizzling .320 efficiency. The Griffins, meanwhile, posted the kind of hitting percentage that keeps coaches up at night – a nightmare .084.

Saskatchewan had great success running quick hits in the middle again – none better than a play late in the first set when setter CJ Gavlas contorted his body sideways in the air and sent a rocket set to the middle that hit Sinoski in perfect mid-flight for a kill that landed on the floor practically before the Griffins moved.

“As long as they’re on time, he can find them,” said Bennett. “That was a great connection. That was an all-world play, so I was pretty happy to watch that.”

Gavlas had 29 assists, leading to 10 kills each from Dylan Mortensen and Colin Fraser, while Sinoski had seven on an unstoppable .636 efficiency, adding four blocks. Gavlas also had four blocks as the Huskies seemed to know where the Griffins were going most of the time.

“We were working on the technique of our block and I think it’s starting to get there,” said Bennett. “In this league, it’s a real physical league – every team across the board – but if we’re able to be just as physical at the net when we block, I think it helps our defence out.

“Our guys did a good job of putting their hands in the right spots and we were fortunate today.”

The Griffins, meanwhile, were led offensively by Kai Hesthammer (nine kills) and defensively by Max Vriend (four blocks). 

Both teams are in action next weekend with the MacEwan visiting cross-town Edmonton rival Alberta on Nov. 9-10 with the Huskies hosting the Calgary Dinos on the same dates.

Huskies drop tough match in Edmonton

The University of Saskatchewan Huskies women’s volleyball team couldn’t string together the points when they needed them the most in a loss to the MacEwan Griffins in Edmonton on Saturday afternoon.

Despite leading in the fourth set the Huskies surrendered a 9-1 run to close out the weekend with a 3-1(25-16, 20-25, 25-20, 25-22) loss to MacEwan.

MacEwan improves to 4-2 on the season, while dropping Saskatchewan to 2-2 as the Huskies followed up their season-opening sweep of the Brandon Bobcats with two-straight losses in Edmonton.

Ogle led the Griffins with four aces, while adding 10 kills, four blocks and 13 digs. Hailey Cornelis, was strong from the other side, with 11 kills and 15 digs, while McKenna Stevenson had 10 kills from the middle for the second-straight match, adding a game-high seven blocks.

For the Huskies Taylor Annala with 12 kills and 11 digs along with Regan Wiebe who recorded 10 kills and 15 digs, led the way.

There were plenty of times the Huskies had the Griffins on the ropes, forcing them into scrambles and long points. But the effort from MacEwan’s defence, which combined for 76 digs and 12.0 blocks was tooth and nail. Multiple times, they sent a free ball over to the Huskies, who missed opportunities to put it away and saw crucial points go to the Griffins.

“That’s the tough thing – they’re giving us some easy balls and we’re turning around and not scoring a point,” said Huskies head coach Mark Dodds. “Ultimately, those are the easy times of the game, the times you feel like you should execute, and we didn’t today.

“On that note, I’ve got to give a lot of credit to MacEwan because their defence was as scrappy as it gets. They probably had 15 one-handed digs on hard-hit balls. You just don’t see that every day. It was fun to watch in a sense, but very, very frustrating to watch at the same time.”

Dodds’ squad doubled down on the late-match disappointment by losing commanding leads in both fourth sets over the weekend. The Huskies now head home to prepare to for their home openers against the Calgary Dinos on Nov. 9-10.