After a hot start from the Wesmen, another upset in the men’s volleyball semifinals looked very possible with Canadian Mennonite University unable to get their A-game going early. The Blazers made a valiant effort and cut their deficit towards the end of the set, looking like they were going to creep back for a comeback win. But UW middle, Alex Franks, crushed an emphatic kill right before CMU could get to the vital 24-point mark and the Wesmen got the first set 25-23.
Whatever CMU Head Coach, Don Dulder, told his team between sets must have worked because CMU came out of the break with a newfound sense of urgency. They got a 9-5 lead on the Wesmen and forced UW to make some costly errors on their own side of the net. The gusto that UW had shown in the first set began to wane and they struggled to keep their attack within the lines or off of the net, making CMU’s runs mount quickly. CMU won the second set rather handily not just by the 25-20 final score, but UW looked like a regroup was in order.
By the third set, the game began to slow down and the excitement that had been in the crowd during the earlier men’s semifinal was no longer there. A couple separate out-of-rotation calls were made by the umpire only to be discussed and then reversed, and the pace just didn’t seem to have the speed that it did when the game began. This didn’t seem to help U of W’s chances as their non-existent bench and scrappy defence took a great deal of energy to produce.
Despite trailing in the third set, U of W’s attack continued to play well and left sides Lyle Koop and Andrew Lysack were putting balls away when they got the chance. CMU All-Conference selection, MacKenzie Hildebrand, also was a consistent swing who seemed to get better as the game wore on.
Late in the fourth set, the Wesmen trailed and it began to feel like do-or-die points for them if they wanted to have a chance at Sunday’s final. They began to gain momentum and get a few points back but when CMU got to the 24-mark, the Blazers had serve and after a relatively harmless pass was popped up by U of W, a miscommunication led to the ball staying on their side and the Blazers were granted their shot at tomorrow’s final against the home team Universite de Saint-Boniface at 3 pm.