Feb 05, 2017
EDMONTON - The University of Alberta needed five sets for the second-straight night, as they knocked off the visiting Mount Royal Cougars 22-25, 23-25, 25-16, 25-20, 15-13, Saturday night at Saville Community Sports Centre.
The win pushes the Bears up to 15-3 in Canada West play, which places them third overall behind the 19-1 Manitoba Bisons and 18-2 Trinity Western Spartans. Mount Royal, meanwhile, falls to 10-8, but holds on to their fifth place standing.
Fifth-year outside hitter Ryan Nickifor paced the Bears with a game-high 23 kills on 43 attempts on Saturday, while all-time Canada West assists leader Brett Walsh finished with 55 assists.
The Cougars had of pair of hitter with tremendous performances on Saturday, as Riley Friesen finished with a team-high 21 kills, and Tyler Schmidt spun in 18 on 38 attempts.
Coming off a hard-fought five setter the night before, the Cougars came to play on Saturday, racing out to a quick 7-2 lead. MRU never relinquished the lead in the opening set, with the Bears coming closest at 17-16. A quick 5-3 run late pushed the visitors in front for good with a 25-22 win.
The second set was considerably closer than the first, with the foes exchanging points early on. Another quick momentous run by Mount Royal gave them control of the second, before edging Alberta 25-23. Despite 14 kills from Nickifor in the first two sets, the Bears found themselves in a two-sets-to-none hole.
The Golden Bears finally found their offensive rhythm in the third, as Nickifor spun in another five kills, to go along with six from Chris Towe, and two each from Taylor Arnett and Alex McMullin. The third never seemed in doubt with the Bears up 14-8, before winning the set 25-16.
Both teams came to play in the fourth, and although Friesen and Schmidt combined for 11 kills in the set, the Bears managed to even the match with a 25-20 win. Alberta used a three team blocks, along with nine digs and pair of aces to take the fourth.
The fifth was easily the best of the weekend, as neither team was willing to give an inch. The Bears took slight control midway through the fifth with a 3-1 run to take a 9-6 lead. The Alberta foes exchanged service errors late, before Arnett clinched the 15-13 fifth set win with his 11th kill of the night.
Both teams will continue their chase for the playoffs next weekend, as Alberta hosts UBCO in their final home series, while Mount Royal will return home for a set against Brandon.