Game recap by: Kirk Jessome
(Halifax, NS) – In Saturday night volleyball action, the Dalhousie Tigers hosted the UNB Varsity Reds at the Dalplex. The net presence of the Varsity Reds was the key for them, picking up blocks and forcing errors en route to their 3-1 victory.
Both teams traded points early with neither side gaining much of an edge, heavy hitting and strong defence coming from both sides of the net.
Libero Mathieu Lavoie (Winnipeg, MB) was huge for the Tigers with five quick digs resulting in kills for Matthew Donovan (London, ON). On the other side, Alex Egers (Fredericton, NB) was also playing stellar defence, helping to set up Pascal McCarthy (Fredericton, NB) and Connor McConnell (Hanwell, NB) for three kills each.
Just before the break the Tigers were able to put together a short run with Donovan serving up an ace to put his team ahead 16-13 at the break.
The Tigers held on to that slight edge after the break, with both sides trading kills, and the Varsity Reds picking up a few big blocks from McConnell and Kent Doucette (Tignish, PEI).
Donovan picked up another kill, and the Tigers took advantage of a Varsity Reds service error as they took the first set by a score of 25-23.
The length of the Varsity Reds continued to give the Tigers trouble in the second set with four blocks as a team before the technical break, as well as forcing the Tigers into attacking errors. As a result, the Varsity Reds jumped ahead to a 16-7 lead at the technical timeout.
Ryan Colpitts (Fredericton, NB) picked up four kills in the set as his team extended their lead to 11, but the Tigers refused to go away in the set. Donovan and Kobe Shannon (Halifax, NS) collected kills for the Tigers, and combined that with great digs from Lavoie to bring themselves back within six.
The Varsity Reds lead was too much to overcome however, capitalizing on errors from the Tigers to take the second set 25-17.
This time it was the Tigers turn to start the set with some fire, jumping out to a 7-1 lead on kills from Donovan, as well as big blocks from Matthew Woods (Halifax, NS).
The Tigers continued their aggressive attack with kills by Graham Schmuland (Calgary, AB) putting them up 15-6, but the Varsity Reds put together a huge run of six straight points before the technical break on three kills from McConnell.
The Varsity Reds continued to have a big presence at the net, bringing themselves within one of the Tigers on three straight blocks with Brad Stewart (Wolfville, NS) getting in on two of them. The Varsity Reds found themselves on set point with the score at 24-21 but were unable to close it out as the Tigers fought back to tie it on kills from Donovan and Jeffrey Walton (Sudbury, ON).
The Tigers had three opportunities to close out the set, but they couldn't put the points together as UNB took the third set 31-29 on two perfectly placed serves from Ryan Colpitts to help put his team up 2-1.
After Graham Schmuland generated the fourth set's first three points on a kill and back to back aces, the teams traded kills in a highly offensive first half of the set, with the Tigers holding that three-point advantage at the break, up 16-13.
The teams traded points late in the set, with the Varsity Reds making up the difference, tying the game up, and taking a slight lead. With the set tied at 23-23, the Tigers hitters went wide on back to back attacks, and the Varsity Reds captured the set 25-23, as well as taking the match.
Matthew Donovan led the way for the Tigers with his game-high 20 kills to go along with 11 digs. For the Varsity Reds, Connor McConnell collected 13 kills and six blocks to earn himself the Subway Player of the Game title.
The two teams will head to the final AUS/RESQ Interlock Tournament before the playoffs next Friday, hosted in Sherbrooke. The Tigers will face the host team in their first matchup while the Varsity Reds will take on Laval.