For a moment, it was eerie how similar to last year the 2013 men’s volleyball final was playing out.
Again, the upstart College Wesmen were taking it to the top-seeded Rebels early. Again, the Rebels fought back to force a fifth set.
When the afternoon was finished, though, there was one big difference with how the Rebels finished in this year’s men’s final – they showed all their strengths in the fifth set.
In another classic final between the #1-seeded Red River Rebels and #2-seeded University of Winnipeg College Wesmen, five sets and over two hours were needed to decide a championship. Thanks to three straight set victories after dropping the first two, the Rebels were the victors – and winners of their fifth men’s volleyball title in six years.
The tournament MVP went to Rebels setter Aaron Cyr, who showed utter dominance at the net in the sets Red River were able to win – recording stuff block after stuff block throughout the weekend.
The match started with a phenomenal College Wesmen first set comeback. Down 21-16, they recorded three aces and got outside kills from Nathaniel Therrien and regular season MVP Stef Dirks to grab momentum and win the set, 25-22.
The most competitive set of the afternoon was the second, and again it was Therrien who was clutch down the stretch. Following up a kill off the block, he recorded an ace to provide his team a 28-26 set win and put them on the verge of a repeat championship.
The Rebels, though, seemed to come out a new team in the third. Quicker to the attack, especially in the middle, Brett Lowe and Erik Hansen picked their spots at will. An eight point lead at 14-6 would balloon from there, as the Rebels pushed the match further with a 25-12 set win.
They would carry momentum into the fourth, capitalizing on College Wesmen mistakes to go up 10-3 early. Winnipeg, though, composed themselves, as Dirks recorded two straight kills from the left side to bring the lead down to four late. That’s as close as they would get, though, as the lead was too much to overcome, and the Rebels forced a fifth set with a 25-21 set win.
The crowd got reasons to go wild on both sides during the decisive fifth set, with both teams going back and forth until the last few points. Dirks recorded three kills in the set, and Therrien added two blocks. They were overwhelmed, though, by the outstanding clutch play of Mitch Hendry, who recorded five kills and a block to give his team a lead. Then, it was Aaron Cyr, who went behind the line and gave his team four straight points, sealing the victory.
For his efforts, Hendry was awarded the player of the game for the Rebels. A crafty outing from first-year setter Turner Johnson earned him player of the game honours for the College Wesmen.
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