Men's volleyball wins home opener
By Justin Steenhof
The Briercrest Clippers men’s volleyball team faced the Lakeland College Rustlers in their home opener as they looked to earn themselves a winning record. Briercrest had an even one-win one-loss record while the Rustlers had yet to play a game. Briercrest came out on top 3-1 (26-24, 23-25, 25-17, 25-19).
An authoritative kill by Josh Wendel was the opening play of the first set much to the delight of the home crowd. Briercrest continued to hit the ball well as Cody Quiring pounded a free ball into the court. The strong hitting continued as Scott Willms joined in the fun as Briercrest jumped out to the early 7-2 lead. Three straight errors though allowed Lakeland into the game but Kyle Pankratz shut that notion down with a massive stuff block. The quick lead resulted in Lakeland being forced to call an early time out. The Rustlers responded well with a nice kill and stuff block pulling to within three, but a nice free ball kill by Carter Reimer brought the momentum back to Briercrest. Lakeland though continued their strong play as they fought their way back into the game, but Quiring was making their job hard with strong serving. Briercrest again seized the momentum on a powerful double block by Pankratz and Willms forcing Lakeland into another timeout with the score 17-13. A hard-hitting period of volleyball followed with both teams winning points off of kills. The Rustlers strong play resulted in them fending off four straight set points and a time out for Briercrest with the score 24-23. After a few close calls Briercrest won the first set on a nice double block 26-24, taking a 1-0 set lead.
This time it was Lakeland opening the set with a kill, but Quiring would respond with a kill of his own. Strong play at the net and serving by Quiring would give Briercrest the slight lead by responding with their own blocking and tie the game at 4-4. Neither team was able to seize the momentum as the two teams traded points back forth providing the same hard hitting, well played volleyball that was seen in the first set. Quiring continued his strong play and was seemingly unstoppable providing offence with his strong serves and well placed hits. A huge kill by Willms provided the spark Briercerst was looking for, and Pankratz continued the momentum with another monstrous kill. Lakeland though would battle back to take the lead following some solid offence. Again the teams would begin to trade points as neither seemed to be able to take control of the second set. Pankratz and Quiring would continue their strong play, as Briercrest would take a two-point lead leading to a Rustlers timeout with the score 19-17. Coming out of the timeout though Lakeland would pull even and again the teams would struggle over control of the set. Lakeland would then take the lead 23-21 causing Briercrest coach Nigel Mullan to call a timeout. A quick two points by Briercrest evened the score and forced a Lakeland timeout. Lakeland would respond well seizing the last two critical points, winning 25-23 and evening the match at 1-1
The third set would continue to follow the same story lines as both teams trading points and struggling for control of the set. A strong offence from Briercrest would lead to an early three-point lead and a Lakeland timeout. Briercrest looked to extend their lead and would do so by again relying on their offence, which had been solid, and two kills by Guenther would prove that point. Lakeland wouldn’t give up though as they continued to answer everything Briercrest threw at them. Guenther though would step his play up in the third set providing his third huge kill of the set and leading to a Rustler timeout with the score 19-14. Quiring would also continue his strong play helping Briercerst with several key points on route to a 25-17 third set victory and a 2-1 set lead.
Briercrest came out strong for the fourth set, punctuated by a stuff block by Willms and Quiring and jumping to a slim early lead. Guenther would continue his strong play with another kill from the back row as Briercrest grabbed the momentum early. The Rustlers however would not go down easily and fought to cut into the Clippers early lead. Mistakes and a relentless Briercrest attack would make their task very difficult. However, thanks to some strong blocking and well-placed serves Lakeland would find themselves with the lead and Briercrest would need a timeout. Briercrest would respond well, tying the game and the taking a slight lead. Quiring and Pankratz would again provide some offence as the Clippers took a three point lead causing a Lakeland timeout. Lakeland tried to rally back but Briercrest was not to be denied as a solid passing and hard hitting offence resulted in a 25-19 set win claiming the match three sets to one.
Breircrest head coach Nigel Mullan was happy with the effort level of his players.
“We started great, but give Lakeland credit they really pushed us in the second set with a scrappy effort. However, thanks to the energy of the home crowd we were able to seize the momentum in the third set and carry it into the fourth and final set.”
The Clippers improve to 2-1 while the Rustlers open their season with a loss falling to 0-1.
Lakeland Rustlers player of the Game: #7 Savana Walkingbear with 15 kills, 2 service aces, and 10 digs.
Briercrest Clippers player of the Game: #7 Cody Quiring with 12 kills, 4 service aces, and 9 digs.
Briercrest and Lakeland face-off again for the second meeting of the double header at 3:00 pm on Saturday.