By Sheri Lamb
WINNIPEG – The Winnipeg Wesmen accomplished three things in their thrilling five-set victory over the Saskatchewan Huskies inside the David F. Anderson gymnasium at the Duckworth Centre.
First, the 3-2 (18-25, 16-26, 25-15, 25-23 and 15-8) win allowed the Wesmen to force a third and deciding game in their best-of-three quarterfinal series with the Huskies, after they dropped Game 1 on Friday night, also in five sets. The Wesmen also overcame a slow start after the Huskies took the opening two sets. Finally, the Wesmen victory ended the Huskies seven match win streak, six to end the regular season and one playoff match.
Wesmen fifth-year players Josh McKay, Brendan Black and serving specialist Dustin Ross all had big games after the home side dropped the first two sets as they weren't interested in ending their Canada West careers going down in straight games.
Setter McKay ended the match with four kills, 43 assists and 10 digs, while Black had 11 kills and three digs. David Bommersbach finished the evening with 12 kills, three digs and a service ace. Taylor Howe came up with some big plays for the Wesmen among his 17 kills and six digs. Howe, a third-year outside hitter, also had the definitive kill in the fifth set to force Sunday's deciding match.
The Huskies took the first set 25-18 led by left-side Jordan Nowakowski's seven kills. It was a tight set that saw a too aggressive Wesmen team give up several points on net violations. For the Wesmen, outside hitter Brendan Thielmann led the team with three kills, while libero Logan Brennan had three digs. The Huskies Colin Fraser led all diggers with five.
In the second set the Huskies continued their dominance with the 25-16 set victory. Nowakowski ran his game totals to 11 kills, while his Huskies' teammate Andrew Nelson had seven kills through two sets. Taylor Howe had seven kills for the Wesmen. The Huskies broke open a tight set midway through outscoring the Wesmen 13-6 down the stretch.
Not about to be swept on their home court the Wesmen came out flying in the third set and held on for the 25-15 set win. Winnipeg was led in kills through three sets by Howe (10), Brendan Black (9) and David Bommersbach (7). Wesmen setter Josh McKay contributed 30 assists and three kills, while Brennan had 12 digs.
Things continued to go Winnipeg's way to start the fourth set as they jumped out to an 10-3 advantage with five straight points. At the technical break the Wesmen had a 16-11 lead. But the Huskies chipped away at the Wesmen lead and closed within two points at 24-22 before Andrew Nelson served up an ace for the visitors. Winnipeg was able to close out the set 25-23 forcing a fifth set for a second straight night.
In the fifth set the Wesmen crept out to a slight advantage as their season was on the line. Winnipeg forced a third and deciding game, taking the fifth set 15-8.
Nowakowski finished the game with 18 kills, three digs and two service aces for the Huskies, while Fraser contributed eight kills and 12 digs. Nelson also had eight kills, nine digs and setter C.J. Gavias had 36 assists, two kills and eight digs.
Game 3 goes Sunday, Feb. 28 at the Duckworth Centre. Game time 2 p.m.