Dan Khavkin, Cougars Athletics
CALGARY- A scrappy five-set marathon (13-25, 25-22, 20-25, 28-26,17-15) was what the Mount Royal Cougars had to fight through to pick up their second straight win and formulated the sweep of the Manitoba Bisons on home court in the Kenyon Courts Saturday night.
Cougar head coach Sandra Lamb commented on the nature of the win saying, “It came down to us playing pure ugly volleyball and trying to be as gritty as you can, that’s how we ended up winning. It literally was pure grit and coming up at the right time.”
Cougar Libero Natalia Klimenova outduelled her Bison counterpart Cassie Bujan 31-22 in Digs while MRU Outside-Hitter Chantel Park led the match in Kills with 19.
The Bisons began to run away in the first set, being up as much as seven at one point at the first technical timeout being up 16-9. Manitoba continued the pressure and outscored the Cougars the rest of the set to take the first set 25-14.
In the second set, Manitoba again had a 16-9 lead heading into the technical timeout, outplaying MRU midway through the set. The Cougars, however, clawed and clawed to begin an emphatic comeback to close the gap in an attempt to even the match after the technical timeout. MRU outscored Manitoba 16-6 t after the break to take the second set to even the match 1-1. They completed the comeback, taking the lead at 23-22 and forced a final timeout out of Manitoba but it wasn’t enough to slow down the ferocious Cougar comeback who took the set 25-22.
Down 1-7 early in the third set, MRU called their timeout and managed to bridge the gap but were down at the technical timeout for the third consecutive set. The Cougars almost mounted another incredible comeback but only got as close as five down, dropping the third set to the Bisons 20-25.
Manitoba appeared to be in the driver’s seat being up 2-1 but a pesty Cougars side continued to claw back. MRU lead a set for the first time since their second set comeback, being up 11-10 in a back and forth affair in the fourth set but found themselves down 15-16 at the technical timeout. The Cougars forced Manitoba to called a timeout deep in the set, being up 20-18. Being down one at 23-22, Manitoba called their second timeout. MRU used their first timeout in a game-deciding point, down 24-25. A few more points both ways and the Cougars managed to escape the set to force the final set at 28-26.
Down 11-7 in the fifth set, Manitoba called their timeout in an attempt to shake off of a stable Cougar level of play and did just that taking a 14-12 lead. MRU fought on and held on for the 17-15 set win to complete the sweep of the Bisons to begin their 2018/19 season.