DAVID LARKINS, Wesmen Athletics
It is still a team in the process of learning just what it is capable of and what needs to be done to get there, and Sunday afternoon the Winnipeg Wesmen women's volleyball team got a reminder that it's not going to always come easy.
The Wesmen were unable to close out a two-set lead in the final of the Unruh Realty Challenge and dropped a 3-2 (19-25, 15-25, 25-21, 25-14, 16-14) decision to the Manitoba Bisons at the Duckworth Centre.
The Wesmen finished the tournament with three wins against two losses and now have an overall 6-4 record in non-conference play.
It put a slight damper on a weekend that started off strong for Winnipeg, which won its first three matches.
"We came out hot and we just couldn't finish," interim head coach Phil Hudson said. "(The Bisons) got some momentum, got some confidence and then we came back in the fifth set, made a game of it and had a chance to win the match, but we just couldn't execute. We'll put this in the bank and use it for future reference as far as what we need to do in order to play in Set 5."
Laube served the Wesmen on a major run in the fifth set when Winnipeg turned a 10-6 deficit into a 13-10 lead. From there, however, the Bisons defended well and kept the home side from closing things out.
Setter Rylie Dickson said the confidence in the group remains high just a few weeks out from the start of Canada West conference play.
"I think we really showcased that we are a new team," Dickson said. "We've been working so hard in practice and I think we played pretty good this weekend even though we didn't have the ending we wanted.
"We have a lot of players that have a lot of different strengths. We have Kal and Emma on the outside and they played so good, our middles are doing great. We have so many options and we can spread the offence nicely."
Earlier in the day, a split-squad Wesmen team made up of mostly first-years defeated Lakehead 3-1 (23-25, 25-17, 25-22, 25-22) in a fifth-place match. Freshman right side Alexa Wieczorkiewicz had 17 kills to lead the way while Emily Yaeger had 11 kills and five aces.
In the only other match of the day, Brandon defeated Regina 3-1 (23-25, 25-17, 31-29, 25-21) to finish in third place.