WINNIPEG – In the span of less than 24 hours, the MacEwan Griffins men's volleyball team went from a one-dimensional team swept out of the Manitoba Bisons gym to a multi-headed supreme attacking and blocking terminator.
Max Vriend broke MacEwan's record for blocks in a Canada West match with 12 and was one of four players in double digits for kills, as the Griffins went from losing 3-0 on Friday to winning their first match of the season, 3-2 over the Bisons on Saturday (25-20, 30-32, 25-15, 20-25, 19-17).
"I'm so happy for our guys," said head coach Brad Poplawski, whose team improves to 1-7 on the season with a victory over the reigning Canada West runners-up. "They work so hard. We ask so much of them as far as video and workouts and it is such a hard-working team.
"I don't think they ever stopped believing and I can tell by how hard they still work and the attitude they bring. I'm just very happy for them. They played a great match overall.
"It was two teams that really battled in the second set going 32-30 and the fifth set going 19-17. They earned it. It wasn't easy. It was fun to see the guys perform like that."
While Kerrison led the Griffins with 18 kills in a bit of a one-man show on Friday night, he had plenty of help on Saturday.
Rookie Ryan Zachary led the way with 23 kills, tied for the second-most by a Griffins player in their Canada West history. Kerrison had 12 kills and a game-high 12 digs, while Vriend had 12 kills from the middle on .391 efficiency, two service aces and an astounding 12 blocks, which shatters the previous school record of nine. Kai Hesthammer also had a decent night with 10 kills on a .350 percentage, adding 11 digs.
"It's been kind of one guy and tonight we had a bunch of guys," said Poplawski. "It's fun having four guys in double digits. We talked yesterday about we haven't had that, so it was nice to see a bunch of guys have great nights. A lot of that was due to Jonathan Mohler. I thought he really led the offence tonight in moving the ball around and making good decisions, getting good matchups for us."
The second-year setter had 54 assists, which came within two of the school's Canada West record, owned by his older brother Matt Mohler, who graduated from the Griffins after last season.
But perhaps the most impressive aspect of the evening for the Griffins? They went from two team blocks on Friday to 17.5 on Saturday.
"We spent most of our morning practice and our video meeting talking about our blocking assignments and how we could adapt and change," said Poplawski. "We ended up with 17.5 blocks tonight. To see the guys identify something and make the changes and then execute was just massive. It was awesome to see."
Manitoba was led by another big game from fifth-year Adam DeJonchkheere, who posted 27 kills, while Scott Vercaigne chipped in 19 and Dustin Spiring had 15. Jack Mandryk had 61 assists.
"We made so many errors, it's unbelievable," head coach Garth Pischke told Manitoba Athletics. "In the first set, we made 19 errors. Our errors were really not good, and at really bad times, too. We got what we deserved and that's all I can say."
Next up for the Griffins is a two-game road trip at UBC on Nov. 24-25. Manitoba visits Thompson Rivers on the same dates.