DAVID LARKINS, Wesmen Athletics
Kalena Schulz led a stat-stuffing, streak-snapping, much-needed victory for the Winnipeg Wesmen women's volleyball team.
Schulz, a fifth-year left side, set a career-high with 23 kills and was one of five Wesmen players in double figures in kills with 10 as the Wesmen rallied for a 3-2 (25-17, 23-25, 24-26, 25-19, 15-9) victory over the host Brandon Bobcats Thursday, Winnipeg's first conference win in five outings thus far.
Schulz was also one of five Wesmen players in double figures in digs, tying with libero Madison Fyvie with a team-high 23.
Ashleigh Laube had 16 kills and 19 digs, including seven kills in the pivotal fourth set. Boughton and Parker finished with 12 kills each, with Parker adding 14 digs, and Bujan had 10 kills plus three total blocks. Even setter Rylie Dickson, who had 54 assists, got into the attack often, setting a career-high with five kills on eight swings and one error to go along with 15 digs, which was one off a career-high.
The Wesmen took control at 14-14 of the first set with three straight points and six of the next eight to lead 20-16. In the final 11 points to win the set, the Wesmen scored six off kills including three from middle blockers Taylor Boughton (2) and Hallie Bujan. Boughton had four kills in the set and Bujan three as the Wesmen did well to establish a consistent attack from the middle.
In Set 2, the Wesmen continued that momentum and took a 10-7 lead off a Bujan kill. The Bobcats (0-5), however, won four of the next five to level the set and, later, broke a 20-20 tie with three straight points that gave the home side control.
Another squandered lead showed up in the third as the Wesmen watched a 14-9 edge slip away with Brandon winning seven of the next eight points to take a 16-15 lead into the technical timeout. The Wesmen had some life left, still, rallying from 24-21 down to tie the set and force extra points. Back-to-back kills, however, from Rayvn Wiebe gave the Bobcats the third-set win.
The Wesmen jumped out early in the fourth using a four-point run to go up 6-2 and extending that advantage to 9-4 on an Emma Parker kill. Brandon managed to get as close as 12-10 down but would not closer than that the rest of the way after the Wesmen tore off a three-point run.
In the fifth, Winnipeg conjured up another mini-comeback, eliminating a 5-2 deficit by winning nine of the next 10 points including eight straight with Parker on the service line.
"I was thinking about one of the pre-season games against U of M and it went to five sets and we were up in the fifth set and ended up losing, so I was like we are not letting that happen again," Dickson said. "We've been working so hard and we know we can beat this team. We beat Brandon in pre-season in five so we knew we could do it and we just stuck together."
Wiebe led the Bobcats with a program-record 27 kills but only mustered one in the fifth set and two over the course of the final 41 points of the match. Wiebe added 10 digs and Danielle Larocque was the other Bobcat in double-digit kills with 10.
Libero Caitlin Le had a match-high 39 digs to lead five Bobcats in double figures in that category.
The teams meet again Saturday (6:45 p.m.) in Winnipeg to close the home-and-home series. A special courtside ceremony will take place prior to the match to honour the 1982-88 Wesmen women's dynasty that was inducted into the Canada West Hall of Fame earlier this week.