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Wesmen mix it up and go 1-for-2 at Unruh Challenge

Taylor Kleysen swings for one of her 11 kills in a match with the Manitoba Bisons at the Unruh Realty Challenge on Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019. (David Larkins/Wesmen Athletics)
Taylor Kleysen swings for one of her 11 kills in a match with the Manitoba Bisons at the Unruh Realty Challenge on Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019. (David Larkins/Wesmen Athletics)

DAVID LARKINS, Wesmen Athletics

Having already logged three matches in two days — and three wins — Phil Hudson felt it was about time to get a bit more variety going in his lineup at the Unruh Realty Challenge.

The interim head coach of the Winnipeg Wesmen women's volleyball team threw out a brand-new lineup of young players and those getting their first action of their university careers Saturday in a 3-0 (27-25, 25-16, 26-24) setback to the Manitoba Bisons in the final round-robin match of the tournament for both teams.

The Wesmen, who defeated Regina earlier in the day 3-1 (23-25, 25-17, 25-22, 25-22), finished 3-1 while Manitoba went 4-0 and the two teams will face each other Sunday at noon in the 1-2 match to close out the weekend. 

The Wesmen dressed regular starting left side Ashleigh Laube at libero for the first two sets before moving Felixe Sturk-Lussier from left side to the defensive specialist position in the third. Back-up setter Mikaela Cameron played all three sets, freshman Alexa Wieczorkiewicz got her first full action of the weekend, as did back-up Emily Yaeger, who is returning to the team after taking 2018-19 off. 

"I was really proud of everybody that hadn't played that much this weekend got on the court and did a really good job," Hudson said. "Some were playing out of their normal positions just to make sure that we had a chance to play everybody. The first and third sets were really close and we had chances to win both of them but just gave a couple of untimely errors at the end. Playing against a good team — they're one of the top teams in Canada — we have to be pretty proud of what we did."

Left side Taylor Kleysen has caught Hudson's eye with her progression through pre-season training and made an impression on Saturday, hitting a team-high 11 kills. 

"I think it's been really positive in practice and Phil's a really big part of that, but also just having such a deep bench has made everyone work really hard in practice, so I think that's really pushed me in practice," Kleysen said. "It's been nice in pre-season to have an opportunity to go and prove yourself, so every game's a battle and I think that makes everyone work a little harder and makes me want to be better when I'm out there."

Yaeger finished with eight kills, Sturk-Lussier had a team-high 14 digs and middle blocker Jess Friesen, one of the few starters who saw the floor, had three aces — including back-to-back in the third set when the Wesmen rallied to tie the set at 24.

Against Regina, Ashleigh Laube had 12 kills and Madison Fyvie led the team with 25 digs. 

The young Wesmen side will get another shot as a U of W split-squad will play Lakehead in a fifth-place match at 10 a.m. Sunday. Brandon and Regina will play for third place, also at 10 a.m.

—#REPTHEW—