DAVID LARKINS, Wesmen Athletics
Ethan Duncan felt he could impact his team when he's standing on the sidelines. He just knows he can impact it more when he's not.
Duncan, a fourth-year middle/left side who missed the first 14 conference matches of the season due to injury, played his first match in front of the home crowd Friday, helping the Winnipeg Wesmen men's volleyball team to a dominant 3-0 (25-21, 25-20, 25-13) win over the MacEwan Griffins at the Duckworth Centre.
Duncan made his return to the Wesmen lineup last weekend, and in his first home match of the season managed eight kills on 13 swings and hit .385 for the night as the Wesmen rolled to their eighth win in the past nine matches.
"It's a long time coming," Duncan said. "I'm all for helping the guys on the sideline and I know I can impact the game that way but personally I'd rather be on the floor helping them.
"The guys did a great job in the first half (of the season) and filling my few kills and my few blocks. But it's really nice to be back."
Daniel Thiessen led the Wesmen with nine kills and only one error while hitting .571. The Wesmen as a team hit .403 — their best attacking night in a conference match since they hit .438 against MacEwan in a three-set win in Edmonton, Feb. 16, 2018. No Wesmen player hit less than .220.
Setter Mikael Clegg, who last weekend passed the 3,000 assists mark for his career, had 24 assists and had five kills on 10 digs.
Liam Kristjanson had a career-high six aces and served the Wesmen through a big swing in the third set.
The Griffins hung in throughout the first set, never trailing by more than three points and finding themselves down 22-21. But three straight MacEwan attack errors gave the Wesmen the set.
"I don't know if we love to battle and, to me, that's what sports is," Griffins head coach Brad Poplawski said. "You have to love that compete and you have to want to be tied at 20. I don't know if we love that right now. I think it is more of a mental than an Xs and Os. ... Mentally I just wish we would love that compete, so that's what I would like to see more of (Saturday)."
The third set swung drastically for the Wesmen, who won five straight points to go ahead 6-1 and then turned an 11-9 advantage into a 19-9 lead, aided in part by a red card assessed to Poplawski who vehemently argued an in-out call down the line on a swing from MacEwan left side Max Vriend.
"They got that one ball where the coach got the red card and then Liam just kept getting ace after ace, tough serve after tough serve," Duncan said. "He really pushed that lead for us and we did a good job in the front row ... Overall it was a pretty solid game."
Vriend finished with 11 kills to lead the Griffins (2-15), who lost their fifth straight.