Huskies go the distance to edge UNB in five sets

Photo Credit: Rick Zazulak
Photo Credit: Rick Zazulak

QF #3: 50th CIS men's volleyball championship presented by Leggat Auto Group

HAMILTON (CIS) – They may have taken their AUS opponents lightly when the draw of the 50th CIS Men's Volleyball Championship presented by Leggat Auto Group was announced on Sunday. But after Thursday's razor-close decision, the Saskatchewan Huskies will underestimate the New Brunswick Varsity Reds no longer.

CHAMPIONSHIP WEBSITE: http://english.cis-sic.ca/championships/mvball/index

The Huskies clawed their way to a five-set victory, rallying for the final two sets to move on to the semifinal slated for Friday. Set scores were 23-25, 25-20, 19-25, 25-20 and 15-10 in favour of Saskatchewan

Jordan Nowakowski of Rama, Sask. led the Huskies in the see-saw battle tallying a game high 30 kills and registering 31.5 points in the win. Nowakowski was named player of the game for Saskatchewan.

The third set looked like it would be the undoing for the Canada West runner-up Saskatchewan, as UNB rattled off a six-point run to lead 8-2 which basically handed the set to the Varsity Reds. The Huskies rebounded in the fourth set with a 25-20 win, and set the table with the momentum in their favour for the fifth.They opened the final frame 4-0 and then built an 8-2 lead which they were able to build into a 15-10 set victory.

"UNB won their conference and they're a very good team. I do think they took us by surprise, but I like the way that we battled back," said Nowakowski who was named player of the game for Saskatchewan. "We've had to come through some adversity this season and I'm proud of the boys after this one."

Saskatchewan's C.J. Gavlas of Saskatoon, Sask., paired with Nowakowski in bringing the Huskies offence to life, notching a game-high 50 assists to help power the come-from-behind victory.

"If they were supposed to be the underdog, they played their role very well and we didn't play ours very well, in terms of execution." said Gavlas who was named to the CIS all-rookie team on Thursday. "They forced us into a lot of bad things, and our side-out game and our serve-receive game weren't very good. [We] got a little bit better as the match progressed, and we started to figure out their hitters a little bit more.

Etienne Hagenbuch and Gavlas led the Huskies defensively, posting 13 and 11 digs respectively.

Pascal McCarthy of Fredericton, NB led UNB with 20 points, while teammate Eivind Anderson of Sardnes, Norway followed with 17 points. McCarthy had 18 kills on 38 total attacks, with two service aces and six digs in the loss. Anderson had 16 kills.

UNB head coach Dan McMorran was pleased that they held their own with a strong Canada West opponent.

"There's nobody here that's expecting us to topple the Canada West number two-ranked team," said McMorran. "I think our guys have steadily improved all season.

"Some of our weaknesses were exposed a little bit down the stretch. We didn't pass as well as we should have. We're missing one of our key receivers and it began to really show at the end."

STAT LEADERS

Complete Stats: http://english.cis-sic.ca/championships/mvball/2016/championship

Saskatchewan

Kills: Jordan Nowakowski (30), Andrew Nelson (8)

Points: Jordan Nowakowski (31.5)

Blocks: Colin Fraser (3), Tyler Epp (2)

Digs: Etienne Hagenbuch (13), CJ Galvas (11)

Service aces: Colin Fraser (2)

Player of the match: Jordan Nowakowski

UNB

Kills: Pascal McCarthy (18), Eivind Anderson (16)

Points: Pascal McCarthy (20), Eivind Anderson (17)

Blocks: Samuel Alves (6)

Digs: Patrick Surette (9)

Service aces: Pascal McCarthy (2), Samuel Alves (2)

Player of the match: Eivind Anderson

CHAMPIONSHIP SCHEDULE & RESULTS

Thursday, March 10

13:00 Quarter-final #1: Trinity Western 3, Ryerson 1 (25-15, 15-25, 25-15, 25-15)

15:00 Quarter-final #2: Alberta 3, Laval 0 (25-15, 25-19, 25-19)

18:00 Quarter-final #3: Saskatchewan 3, UNB 2 (23-25, 25-20, 19-25, 25-20, 15-10)

20:00 Quarter-final #4: Waterloo vs. McMaster (Cable 14 & www.CIS-SIC.tv)

Friday, March 11

13:00 Consolation #1: Ryerson vs. Laval (Cable 14 & www.CIS-SIC.tv)

15:00 Consolation #2: UNB vs. Loser QF #4 (Cable 14 & www.CIS-SIC.tv)

18:00 Semifinal #1: Trinity Western vs. UNB (Cable 14 & www.CIS-SIC.tv)

20:00 Semifinal #2: Saskatchewan vs. Winner QF #4 (Cable 14 & www.CIS-SIC.tv)

Saturday, March 12

13:00 5th place (Cable 14 & www.CIS-SIC.tv)

15:00 Bronze medal (Cable 14 & www.CIS-SIC.tv)

18:00 Championship final (Cable 14 & www.CIS-SIC.tv) *

* Tape delayed to 22:00 on Cable 14.