Jefferson Hagen, MacEwan Athletics
EDMONTON – You can bet the MacEwan Griffins men's volleyball team celebrated well after going through last weekend without dropping a set for the time since joining Canada West in 2014.
Beating UBC-Okanagan in straight sets twice on their home-opening weekend was sweet.
But come Monday morning, the workboots and hard hats went back on.
"It was really nice to start that way," said head coach Brad Poplawski. "But I think regardless of the result, we were always going to come back on Monday and say 'we've got to get ready for Manitoba.'
"We structure our weeks pretty similar all the time," he continued. "Monday-Tuesday, we focus on ourselves and then Wednesday-Thursday we focus on the opponent. I thought on Monday the guys came in and worked hard. We talked about some things we did well and some things we can do better. I thought their response to it was good."
Heading to the site of one of their three wins last season – a 3-2 triumph last November – with as much confidence as they've had in a long time, the Griffins have a chance for continued success against Manitoba. They'll face the Bisons on Saturday (3 p.m. MT) and Sunday (2:45 p.m. MT, both on Canada West TV).
But the Bisons (0-2) will be a hungry bunch after losing two close matches to Mount Royal University on opening weekend.
"They're big and they're physical," said Poplawski. "They've moved one of their big setters to the middle. Their younger outsides have that another year under their belt. Big, physical middle … so they're good.
"They do some things quite well. They put up a big block, they triple block a lot. They have some big flyers on the outside that are really going to put some stress on our block. And they're always good in their gym. They're going to test a lot of things with us, with their size and their jump."
The Griffins wouldn't want it any other way as solid tests are only going to make them stronger in their quest for the first Canada West playoff berth in program history.
"It's going to be like that every weekend," said Poplawski of the challenge that Canada West competition poses. "Hopefully there's some things we can do to counter-act what they do, but our guys have got to be ready to play at a high level. They're not happy with their results last weekend. They're going to be hungry for their home opener. First game in front of their fans, they're going to want two wins.
"We need to match everything that they're doing, their intensity and their work ethic – all of those things."