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Wesmen start hot but Bears find way to rebound

Wesmen left side Ethan Duncan swings against the Alberta Golden Bears block during a four-set loss on Friday, February 15, 2019. (David Larkins/Wesmen Athletics)
Wesmen left side Ethan Duncan swings against the Alberta Golden Bears block during a four-set loss on Friday, February 15, 2019. (David Larkins/Wesmen Athletics)

DAVID LARKINS, Wesmen Athletics

The Winnipeg Wesmen were out of the playoff picture before they took the floor Friday, but they still put up a fight against one of the top teams in the country.

The Wesmen men's volleyball team had its playoff hopes vanquished thanks to a UBC victory over Calgary earlier in the day won the first set but couldn't keep the momentum going in a 3-1 (18-25, 25-23, 26-24, 25-18) Canada West conference loss to the sixth-ranked Alberta Golden Bears Friday at the Duckworth Centre. 

Ethan Duncan led the Wesmen (7-14) hitting .348 on 10 kills on 23 swings with just two errors. He added seven digs. Garrett Jones, who will have his Senior Night on Saturday, had nine kills on 14 swings with one error to hit .571. Daniel Thiessen's 12 digs led Winnipeg. 

The Wesmen are now playing out the string with one more match to end the conference season. Some of the team's youth movement got into action with freshman Austin Anderon getting his first career start at libero for the injured Darian Picklyk and freshman Nigel Nielsen getting three kills on five swings and three digs in the most extended action of his young career. 

"The biggest change was dealing with adversity," Nielsen said of his first year in Wesmen colours. "Dealing with injuries because it's a very long season and the fact that you're just a small fish in a big pond. It's been an adjustment but I'm loving it so far."

Alex McMullin had 15 kills and hit .423 for Alberta (16-5) and Taryq Sani added 15 kills on 50 swings. 

The Golden Bears hit .028 in the first set but surged after that, hitting .400 in the fourth set and .230 for the night. 

"It took us a while," Alberta head coach Terry Danyluk said. "I thought we started a little slow and made a bunch of errors out of the gates and allowed them to get some momentum going. They're a good team and when you give a good team that opportunity they're going to take advantage of it."

—#REPTHEW—