DAVID LARKINS, Wesmen Athletics
WINNIPEG – The Winnipeg Wesmen will go into the final weekend of the season with a very real chance at securing a home playoff date.
All 13 active-roster Wesmen got in the match for the final Canada West conference match this season inside the Duckworth Centre in a 3-2 (24-26, 25-13, 25-21, 18-25, 15-12) loss to the No. 3-ranked Alberta Golden Bears Saturday night.
The No. 7-ranked Wesmen saw their four-match win streak snapped by Alberta (18-4), which had its 10-match win streak ended the night prior in a four-set U of W win.
The split of the weekend, though, will keep Winnipeg within striking distance of fourth-place Brandon, which started the night two points ahead of the Wesmen. Winnipeg heads to 2-20 MacEwan next weekend, while the Bobcats have to hit the road to play Alberta.
The top four teams host first-round playoff series.
The Wesmen, who have had to juggle lineups due to injury for the past five weeks, voluntarily moved the pieces around Saturday, giving rare starts to seniors Nolan Parrington and Nick Jacobson and letting everyone in a Wesmen jersey see the floor throughout the night.
"I think it just proves that we can compete with the best teams in the country," third-year setter Mikael Clegg said. Clegg had an active day offensively for a setter, taking 12 swings and notching six kills. "But other than that, it's nothing that we are surprised by."
Daniel Thiessen had a double-double with 17 kills and 14 digs to lead the Wesmen (14-8), while Adrian Dyck, who didn't appear in the first set, surged in a reserve role, notching eight kills. Middle blocker Garrett Jones also had eight kills, coming on 12 swings with just one error.
And it paid off.
Down 2-1 in sets, Winnipeg jumped out to a 7-2 lead in the fourth and eventually stretched it to 13-6, a lead the Golden Bears weren't able to overcome.
In the fifth, the Bears took control by winning five of six points after going into the turn down 8-7.
Taryq Sani led three Bears in double figures in kills with 20 on 46 swings and added 12 digs, six total blocks and two aces. Alex McMullin added 13 and Carter McIntyre 11 for Alberta, which also used a lot of its bench, going 10 deep.