Net violations, service errors cost Griffins in 3-1 loss at Manitoba

Griffins setter Caleb Weiss had 54 assists against Manitoba on Saturday, tying for the third-most in a match in MacEwan's Canada West history (Chris Piggott photo).
Griffins setter Caleb Weiss had 54 assists against Manitoba on Saturday, tying for the third-most in a match in MacEwan's Canada West history (Chris Piggott photo).

MacEwan Athletics and Bisons Athletics

WINNIPEG – Net violations killed any rhythm the MacEwan Griffins were building as they dropped their first match of the Canada West men's volleyball season, falling 3-1 on Saturday to Manitoba.

"We were very undisciplined," said MacEwan head coach Brad Poplawski. "We missed a lot of serves and were on the net an unbelievably high amount of times. So just very undisciplined volleyball on our part."

It added up to a 25-19, 19-25, 25-22, 25-22 defeat to the Bisons, who were hungry in their home opener after losing the first two matches of their season last weekend in Calgary against Mount Royal University.

"It was unbelievable how many times we were called on the net," said Poplawski. "Some of them I disagreed with, but when the ref makes that call, you always have to accept it.

"We got called a number of times and then we'd go back, and we just missed too many serves. We didn't put enough service pressure on them."

The Griffins (now 2-1 in the standings) piled up 16 service errors throughout the match, something they will need to clean up in Sunday's rematch (2:45 p.m. MT, Canada West TV).

"You have your eight seconds to serve and guys have to focus on their toss, their contact point, their pre-service routine – all those things," said Poplawski. "We have to get back to our routine back there and make sure we're serving the right guy.

"Then, just not try to do too much on our block. We have to take away space but not hit the net. If you hit the net, it doesn't matter whether you hit the dig or not. There's some things offensively we have to clean up, too, but to me the biggest thing that stuck out was just our undisciplined play."

Kai Hesthammer led the Griffins with 20 kills on .412 hitting percentage, while Max Vriend had 18 and Jordan Peters chipped in 13 kills and 10 digs. Caleb Weiss logged 54 assists, which ties the third-most in school history in a Canada West match.

In the first set, the Griffins made a strong effort to get ahead, with great blocking and strategic kills, however, the Bisons held strong and took their lead to the end of the set. A strong mid-court kill by Dylan Sutherland put Manitoba within set point, and a block from Kevin Negus clinched the set (25-19).

MacEwan led the second set by a margin of one point until halfway through when a cross-court strike from Noah Johnson landed them a 16-14 lead. The Griffins extended their lead throughout the second half. A back-pocket kill from Friend put MacEwan three points from taking the set. Later, Peters broke a rally with a mid-court spike to take the second set 25-19.

The third set, like much of the earlier game, was a neck-and-neck race. MacEwan took a lead early on (6-4) but some errors gave Manitoba the opportunity to make up points and the set was tied by 7-7. At 23-21, though, the Griffins made a service error that put the Bisons within set point and a Negus kill ended it 25-22.

"It was on our side; we made a few unforced errors. I don't think they really beat us, I think we beat ourselves," said Vriend "For tomorrow's game, we go back to our controllables, go back to our system."

The fourth set was also close all the way through, but a spike by Dustin Spiring sent the score to 24-22 to bring the Bisons within set point. An error by MacEwan gave the Bisons the set (25-22) and in turn, the game.

"Maybe we didn't handle some things well enough," surmised Poplawski. "We definitely didn't play with the same rhythm that we had last weekend. I thought we maybe carried stuff too long, dwelled too long on errors.

"We have to do a better job playing our style. We can't get caught up playing the way they want to play. We have to have an identity and get back to that. That's what I'm hoping to see (on Sunday)."