Now is the time to win

Wesmen end losing streak with split against Thunderbirds

Friday night kill leaders (l-r) Justin Duff (10 kills) and Andrew Town (21 kills). Clayton Winter

Winning heals all wounds. The lowly Winnipeg Wesmen (8-8) men’s volleyball team lost five of their last six games and needed a win over the University of British Columbia (UBC) Thunderbirds (9-7) for their confidence.

They earned the win they needed on Friday, Jan. 30, 3-1 (25-18, 21-25, 25-23, 25-20), but lost the next day 1-3 (25-23, 23-25, 26-24, 25-20).

Coming into the game the team lacked some confidence. The Wesmen were on a four game losing streak after playing the Calgary Dinos and the Alberta Golden Bears.

“The problem lately has been confidence. We told ourselves this game that no matter what happens we’re going to win these sets, we’re going to finish them,” said the fifth-year veteran Alan Ahow.

“I think we just wanted to make sure we stay positive,” said middle Danny Andres. “We know we could play well as a team.”

In Friday’s game, the Wesmen showed that confidence right out of the gate earning the first three points and keeping the lead the whole set. Winnipeg ran away with the first set 25-18.

However, the T-Birds were not going to give in easily as they came storming back in the second set. UBC kept the lead all the way up until the second technical timeout at 12-16.

The Wesmen then made the right adjustments and were able to score six points in a row to lead at 18-16. Unfortunately for the fans in the Duckworth Centre, UBC went on their own six point run to take the lead back at 18-22. The Wesmen went on to lose the set 21-25.

“They just kept playing hard. I don’t think they played any different throughout the whole set,” said Andres. “We struggled a little bit throughout the set too.”

The third was another tough set. UBC led for the majority of the set until Winnipeg jumped in front 20-18. At that point, the T-Birds’ head coach, Richard Schick, called a timeout.

The next point was a long rally that went in favour of UBC, but the Wesmen stayed focused to hold on to win the set 25-23 and ultimately finish them off 25-20 in the fourth.

It took the mental toughness the Wesmen earned in their recent losses.

“I think it was looking back on the previous two encounters we had with Alberta and Calgary. We had a lot of long rallies that we did lose. Just building off of that and just knowing if we hang in there we will come out on top,” said Andres.

In other Wesmen action, the women’s volleyball team lost both games in straight sets to UBC, the women’s basketball team swept Brandon 70-56 and 78-60, while the men’s basketball team lost twice 75-85 and 64-68.

Before the playoffs, Winnipeg has the Duckworth Challenge against the Manitoba Bison starting at the University of Manitoba on Thursday, Feb. 5 and then coming back home to the Duckworth Centre on Sunday, Feb. 8.

Published in Volume 63, Number 19 of The Uniter (February 5, 2009)

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