DAVID LARKINS, Wesmen Athletics
Two weeks ago on the same floor, the Winnipeg Wesmen built a big lead and watched a team wipe it all out. On Friday, they weren't letting that happen again.
The Wesmen women's volleyball team shook off second- and third-set runs from the Mount Royal Cougars and scored its second sweep of the season, dominating in a 3-0 (25-16, 25-18, 26-24) Canada West conference victory at the Duckworth Centre.
The last time the Wesmen were at home, the Trinity Western Spartans eliminated a 10-point lead to stun U of W in a decisive third set.
On Friday, Winnipeg built up a lead in the second set that grew to as many as 10 points before the Cougars began to chip away. MRU would win four of the next five points and, later trailing by seven, put together a four-point run that got them to within 21-18 and the Wesmen back on their heels.
"We stayed aggressive throughout, but we got a little bit too excited at times and still went back into our routine too much," U of W head coach Diane Scott said. "... We came out of the lull in the second set and controlled that. (The third set) we had to gut it out and come back and then take charge of it, and not panic at the very end."
The Cougars carried some momentum into the third, but this time it was the Wesmen rallying. Mount Royal built a 19-14 lead, but the Wesmen won eight of the next 11 points to tie it at 22. With the scored tied at 24, the Cougars were charged with a ball-handling error and Emma Parker followed that with her 11th and final kill of the night to put the match away for Winnipeg (3-6).
The victory ended a four-match losing streak for Winnipeg, which is now 3-2 on home floor. Mount Royal fell to 4-5 with its second straight loss and third of its last four.
"There were a lot of things that were really good about, but there were a couple scenarios where just the tempo was off," Scott said of the win. "So we have to tighten that up, but we did a really good job at the net blocking and defensively we did a good job of keeping balls alive and getting a swing on them."
Kalena Schulz had a season-high 14 kills to lead the Wesmen, while Madison Fyvie topped all players with a match-high 21 digs, which ties for the most digs in a 2018-19 Canada West three-setter. Parker added 14 digs for her sixth double-double of the season.
Dholi Thokbuom and Cassidy Kitchen both had six kills for the Cougars, who hit -.008 on the night. Kitchen also had 14 digs. Natalia Klimenova had 19 digs to lead the Cougars defensively.