Alyssa Etsell, Bison Sports
WINNIPEG – Strong offence for the visiting Thompson Rivers WolfPack carried them to a 3-1 win against the University of Manitoba Bisons Friday night (Jan. 25) at Investors Group Athletic Centre.
The four-set win (24-26, 25-20, 25-21, 25-23) snapped a six-match losing streak for the WolfPack and improved their record to 8-7. Manitoba's record moved to 7-10.
There were just six games for both teams left before playoffs and tonight's matchup was crucial for both teams, with Manitoba sitting in eighth spot while Thompson Rivers sits in seventh.
"I think there was a little bit of nerves off and on, I thought we came out for a road game the first night pretty solid," said WolfPack head coach Patrick Hennelly. "And obviously Tim Dobbert had a great night."
Dobbert led in kills for the WolfPack with a stunning 27 in total.
From the start of the fourth set, Manitoba maintained a healthy advantage, running the score up 7-2 and keeping it that way until Thompson Rivers caught up and moved ahead. At technical timeout, the score was 16-14 for the visitors. The rest of the set lent itself to a point-for-point battle. After another push by TRU, a mid-court kill by Dobbert won the set for the WolfPack, 25-23.
"We were having a really good game and then all of a sudden we had five unforced errors and they blocked us once and those were the only errors in the whole set," said Bison head coach Garth Pischke. "Aside from that, they serve the ball really tough and we struggle with that. I think they had 11 aces and we didn't have an answer for [Dobbert]."
For the Bisons, Kevin Negus led in kills with eight in total. Dylan Sutherland served five aces, while TRU's Anton Napolitano served six.
A couple service aces in a row by Sutherland early in third led to a point surge for the Herd, but after a few receiving errors, Thompson Rivers caught up. At technical half, TRU was up 16-13. The home team tried to catch up after a five-point lead by the visitors, but they couldn't hold it and the WolfPack rushed ahead by four and a service error by Manitoba allowed a 25-21 set win for the visitors.
Thompson Rivers led with a hitting percentage of .367 to Manitoba's .176.
In the second, the wall of Dobbert and Taylor Parks on Thompson Rivers successfully shut the Bisons down several times. The Bisons, who lead Canada West in blocks, competed right back, racking up ten total blocks all game to TRU's seven. The WolfPack led by just one point the entire first half of the second set, but surged ahead later on, and though the Bisons tried to come back, a kill from the visitors cemented the set at 25-20.
After leading early on in the first set, the WolfPack's play waned as the Bisons settled into a routine. After the set tied up, a point-for-point battle emerged until the very last point. A Sutherland service ace clinched the set win, 26-24.
Both teams will face each other again tomorrow night (Jan. 26) at 6 p.m. CST. You can catch the match live online at CanadaWest.TV.