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Volleyball teams compete against the Bisons

I throw my hands up in the air sometimes singing eh-o, we got a win-o./Arthur Ward
I throw my hands up in the air sometimes singing eh-o, we got a win-o./Arthur Ward

Two thrillers went down at the CKHS

Saturday, Nov. 28, brought with it a volleyball doubleheader at the CKHS. Both the men and women have struggled this season, and each had lost the previous night. Their opponents, the University of Manitoba Bisons, were ready to compete in the rubber match.

The women, as is the custom, began the doubleheader. One national anthem and a DJ mix of Bring ‘Em Out, and the match began. The Cougars began strong, jumping out to a 5-3 lead, but the advantage was short-lived, as the Bisons made it 13 to 8 before the Cougars were forced to call a timeout, one of many in the match.

The break in the action did nothing to stem the bleeding. At the technical timeout, the score was 16-9 Manitoba. They then extended their advantage to 19-9, after which a lengthy rally, concluding with a ball hit by Toba, landed out of bounds.

This sparked a turn of fortune for the Cougars, who managed to fight back to tie the game at 21, but that wasn’t the only dramatic part of the first set.

A controversial call by the officiating crew sent Manitoba coach Ken Bentley into a tizzy, earning him a yellow card that did nothing for his team’s fortunes. Despite the drama, the women from Winnipeg managed to finish off the beginning frame with a win.

The second set began with the consistent trading of points, that was until Manitoba managed to piece together a mini-run and extend their advantage to 12-7, a point spread that they managed to maintain through the technical timeout. The Cougars could not rekindle the magic of the previous set, losing again, this time by a score of 24-20.

Burrowed into a 2-0 hole, the team looked to be well on their way toward yet another loss, leaving them winless for the year. No one could foresee how the match would finish.

For much of the third set, the Cougars were woefully behind. The Bisons’ advantage stretched to as many as six before the green and gold stormed back, tightening Manitoba’s overall advantage to 2-1 in the process.

The fourth set saw a turn in fortunes, with the Cougs starting out quickly, before a number of errors saw their lead regress until the score was tied at four. At the technical timeout the score was 16-13, the first time in the match that the Cougars had led at the break, and they cruised from there-on-out, winning 25-16 and setting up a deciding fifth set. The final frame would be a race to 15, necessitating a quick start by whichever team was to come out victorious.

Once again, the Cougars began the set slowly, falling behind 3-1 and calling a timeout. All of the momentum seemed to be behind the Bisons, but they managed to regain the lead shortly after the eight-point mark, and held their advantage all the way through to the end of the match. A solid block finished the game, handing the University of Regina squad their first win of their year, one that was secured in dramatic fashion.

After a short break, it was time for the men’s match to begin.

Unlike their counterparts, the men’s team won the first set handily and did the same in the second set. Some highlights included a number of runs by both squads, with timeouts playing a large part in keeping the match reasonably close throughout. With the various momentum shifts, there was a sense that, even though the Cougars had a commanding 2-0 lead, the match was far from over.

The third set was an abnormal one, an inadvertent whistle made the score 9-6 Manitoba and just two points later, there was a lengthy stoppage for blood that had spilled from one of the players and decorated the hardwood floor.

This break in the action made for a stunt in the momentum that the Cougars had built up, as they would go on to lose the set 25-17.

Where the third set had been tinged with controversy, the same was true of the fourth. This time, a point awarded to Manitoba inspired a conversation between the first referee, Glen Hoffman, and Cougars Libero Jacques Borgeaud, and the boys in green would go on to lose 25-22, which set up another deciding final frame. Would the men’s team be able to replicate the women’s team’s success about an hour and a half earlier?

No such luck, the Bisons jumped out to a 3-0 lead and won the match, closing it out by a 15-10 score.

In terms of award winners, an obviously hobbled Brad Millers won the Chartwells Player of the Game award on the men’s side; rookie Haley Wagar earned the honours for the women.

Both teams will restart their Canada West seasons against Calgary in early January, both looking to build off of their moment-sparking work over the past weekend.

About John Loeppky

I am an athlete with a writing problem, or a writer with a sports problem, you decide. When I'm not editing, playing wheelchair sports, or advocating for the disabled, you can find me de-stressing with friends.