Dan Khavkin, Cougar Athletics
CALGARY- Three consecutive sets is what powered Mount Royal's 3-2 comeback win (19-25, 22-25, 25-18, 25-23, 17-15) and a weekend sweep of the Manitoba Bisons at home on the Kenyon Court Saturday night.
Lead by fifth-year veteran Tyler Schmidt's 30 kills, MRU was able to come to life at the right moments to cool off a hot Bisons start. "We needed to keep playing our game and keep up the consistent attitude," Schmidt commented post-game.
MRU salvaged a poor start defensively as a total of 30 errors, 13 being in the first two sets alone, almost cost the Cougars the game tonight.
The Cougars also out-dug the Bisons 60-43 with Libero Jonathan Phillips carrying the MRU load with 26 himself.
"We felt good heading into the final set, we were confident we can maintain that level of play."
A steady back and forth first set saw the Bisons take an early advantage in the match. 4.5 total team blocks and a mere two errors helped carry the Bisons to an early advantage. Both squads essentially rallied point for point up to an 18-20 score for Manitoba who pulled away with a 19-25 set win.
The Cougars showed pulses of life, being down as many as eight at 3-11 at the start of the second set before mounting a comeback and clawing back to as close as three but were ultimately shut down in at the end of the set, being held back 22-25.
Building off a strong showing, however, the Cougars carried this epic momentum swing throughout the duration of the game. They cut the Bisons' lead in half with a 25-18 third set win. MRU only accumulated three errors, their lowest of the game. At 15-15, they broke the set wide open scoring six unanswered and finished the set off with their first of the night.
MRU controlled play since the second half of the second set and moved forward with the momentum when they forced a deciding fifth set by holding on to a 25-23 fourth set win. At 17-17, the Cougars again persistently broke the set open, doubling the Bisons two points at a time with Manitoba only answering with one until closing the set.
Manitoba built an early 2-5 lead and took a 6-8 scoreline into the fifth technical timeout. MRU got their first lead of the final set and forced a timeout at 9-8. The Bisons came up with a huge last stand to force the game at 14 all then forced the Cougars to take their timeout at 14-15. This break helped the Cougars cap off their epic comeback with a 17-15 fifth set win and start their season at 2-0.