DAVID LARKINS, Wesmen Athletics
The Winnipeg Wesmen's quest for a spot in the national championship tournament was stopped one match short.
Just when it looked like momentum might be shifting the way of the Wesmen, who have made come-from-behind wins a part of their makeup this season, the UBC Thunderbirds hit .600 in a decisive fourth set and scored a 3-1 (25-17, 28-26, 20-25, 25-20) win over Winnipeg in the Canada West bronze-medal match Friday night in Vancouver.
The No. 3-ranked Thunderbirds secured the conference's final berth into the national tournament that starts next week in Hamilton, Ont., while the Wesmen fall achingly shy of making the eight-team dance.
David Bommersbach, playing his final match in a U of W uniform, was stellar with a team-high 15 kills on 29 swings and a .448 attack efficiency. Daniel Thiessen added 10 kills for the Wesmen, who also got seven kills each from Garrett Jones and Adrian Dyck.
Taylor Howe, also playing his final game with the Wesmen, had six kills.
Keith West led three UBC players in double figures with a match-high 18 kills. Irvan Brar added 11 and Fynn McCarthy 10, plus 10 digs.
The loss puts to an end a season that started with promise as the Wesmen won 10 of their first 12 matches. Injuries to Howe and Bommersbach provided a roadblock in the second half of the season, but the Wesmen recovered relatively well and seemed to be turning things around with a win over Brandon in the best-of-three conference quarter-final.
Winnipeg hit .264 for the match, while UBC was .350 attacking.
Winnipeg, one of the best blocking teams in the nation all season long, had nine total blocks to the Thunderbirds' six.
Setter Mikael Clegg had four block assists and a solo to lead the Wesmen in that category. Clegg also had a team-high 11 digs.
Logan Brennan, a fifth-year senior libero, had five digs. The Wesmen also will say goodbye to seniors Nolan Parrington and Nick Jacobson.