Kayla Kievits, Cougar Athletics
CALGARY – The volleyball season has officially kicked off with the home opener for the Mount Royal Cougars versus the Winnipeg Wesmen.
The first set started with Mikael Clegg serving for the Wesmen. After two successful serves, MRU's Riley Friesen had a kill from the outside, giving the Cougars their first opportunity to serve. The points went back and forth between the two teams, when Cougar Tyler Schmidt, had two huge kills from right side giving Mount Royal a two-point lead. The teams stayed consistent, alternating kills and blocks, however, the Wesmen took the lead 16-14 at the technical timeout. Winnipeg's Taylor Howe extended the lead with two kills from the outside, the first down the line, and second a hard crosscourt shot. The Cougars were unable to close the gap, and the Winnipeg Wesmen won the first set when #11 Clegg served an ace. The final score of the first set was Wesmen 25, Cougars 18.
The Cougars had first attack entering the second set as Tanner Greves began serving. Winnipeg's David Bommersbach came out swinging with a kill down the line from the right side, followed by a short roll shot into centre court which the Cougars were unable to pick up. The Cougars called a timeout at 11-7 for the Wesmen in order to regroup. MRU's Schmidt took back the serve for the Cougars with a kill from the back row. Despite a few good blocks and attacks from the Cougars, Wesmen were able to keep the lead 16-12 at the technical timeout. The Cougars fought back, but yet again were unsuccessful closing in on the lead, as Wesmen took the second set 25-21.
With the Wesmen up two sets to none, the Cougars knew it was now or never gong into the third. The Cougars came out strong with a crosscourt kill from Matt Saly. The score remained within two points as the teams both put up strong attacks. At the technical timeout, the score was tied at 16. The Cougars slowly took the lead, which was extended when Friesen was up to serve scoring two aces making the score 22-17 for the Cougars. Schmidt closed the deal with two kills from the right side, for a final score of 25-21 for the Cougars.
Entering the fourth set it was still do or die for the Cougars as the Wesmen led two sets to one. The Cougars once again started strong with a huge save from Schmidt chasing a ball to the back of the gym bringing it back into play. This save set the tone for the Cougars for the rest of the set. They quickly took the lead as #8 Schmidt had a back row kill, followed by an ace from #1 Friesen. The two continued to dominate on the Cougars side, Friesen with two back row kills, and Schmidt with a kill from right side extending the lead to 12-7. Winnipeg put up a tough fight as Adrian Dyck put an outside attack off the block. At the technical timeout, the Cougars lead 16-10. After the technical timeout, Schmidt continued to dominate the right side with repeated kills leading the Cougars to a 25-17 victory.
With two sets each under their belt, both teams were feeling the heat entering the fifth. The Wesmen showed a strong start with a kill out of middle from Dyck. The Wesmen had a strong presence in the front row putting up double blocks on the outside attacks. Winnipeg was the first to reach eight, and the teams switched sides with a score of 8-5. Looking to close the gap the Cougars fed the ball to Schmidt who had proven throughout the game to be successful at getting the kill. Although they fought back the Cougars were unsuccessful and the Wesmen took the win on a serve out the back, for a final score of 15-9.
Mount Royal Cougars Schmidt said, "I think we could have improved on our passing, but we were strong on offence."
It was a strong showing from both teams for the home opener. The two face off again tomorrow, Oct. 21, 2017, at Mount Royal University at 4:00 p.m.