Jefferson Hagen - MacEwan Griffins Sports Information
EDMONTON – The Griffins came within a few points of pulling off an upset over the nationally–ranked Saskatchewan Huskies on Saturday afternoon.
After recovering from a 2-0 deficit, MacEwan's men's volleyball team roared back to tie the game and force a fifth set.
However, when the final points were up for grabs, it became clear who had been here before and who hadn't. Mental errors cost the Griffins as a more-experience Saskatchewan side rolled away with a 3-2 win (25-20, 25-22, 19-25, 20-25, 15-10) to complete a weekend sweep.
"I saw guys that maybe were trying too hard," said Griffins head coach Brad Poplawski. "You have to work smart hard. What got us there was enough and I saw guys trying to change what they were doing, whether it's their routine or how hard they were hitting the ball.
"You can tell it was the fifth set. A lot of these guys in this program haven't maybe played in a lot of fifth sets. We made a lot of errors, but I think the big error will be not learning from it, how you react in a game like that.
"Obviously we're hoping at some point in this program we're playing in a fifth set that means a lot."
MacEwan had the look of a team starting to believe in themselves when they took it to Saskatchewan, the No. 9-ranked squad in Canada, for the third and fourth sets. Kills were raining all over the Huskies from Max Vriend, Shane Kerrison, Konel Kowalewski and Kai Hesthammer.
"We were not worse than them in any technical aspect," said 6-foot-8 Kowalewski, who had five kills, a couple so hard they threatened to dent the floor. "It's just the mental game. We're still working on it. But I see us making huge progress every single game."
Saskatchewan showed off the experience they have, though, as they executed better than MacEwan in the deciding set.
"In the fifth set, we just reset," said Huskies head coach Joel Dyck. "I think we played within our abilities, refocused after every point and went after it.
"Volleyball is very much a game of ebbs and flows," he added. "In the third and fourth, they were rolling, so it's difficult. We battled a bit there in the fourth, but in the fifth we were fortunate to execute at a little bit of a higher level."
It all came down to execution. That's what the good teams do.
"We actually didn't think about them being so good," said Kowalewski. "We just knew what was coming. Our coaching staff told us exactly what they're going to do. And that's exactly what they did. So we knew exactly what we have to do.
"I think did a lot of good things today. That's a learning experience."
Kerrison led the Griffins with 14 kills, 11 digs and two aces, while Hesthammer had 11 kills, nine digs and a block.
Colin Fraser had another monster game for the Huskies, recording 18 kills, two aces and four digs.
Next up for MacEwan is a home-and-home series with cross-town rival Alberta (Thursday at CCC, 7:30 p.m. and Friday, 6 p.m., U of A).
Saskatchewan (3-1) will get a weekend off before to Regina for a pair of matches Nov. 18-19.