Written by ACAC
LETHBRIDGE, Alta. - The NAIT Ooks spooked The King's University Eagles with a scary good defensive performance to earn a straight-sets victory in the first consolation semifinal of the Murray Chevrolet Cadillac 2020 ACAC Men's Volleyball Championship. The win keeps the Ooks season alive and means they will be in action on Saturday.
"Our ability to stay resilient made the difference," said Ooks head coach Greg Gulash. "It's one game that obviously we weren't wanting to play in, but when our guys go out there, they just love the sport and enjoy playing it and any chance to get they want to make the most of the opportunity."
The first set went back-and-forth with the Ooks taking an early lead before the Eagles soared back to tie it up. But in the late going, NAIT created separation, taking advantage of 11 unforced King's errors, along with two key blocks from Mitch Lewington (fourth year, Architectural Technology, Perth, Australia) and three kills from Spencer Fisher (fifth year, Bachelor of Applied Business Administration, Barrhead) to help them to a 25-18 win.
In the second set, NAIT again grabbed an early lead, but the Eagles would not go away. King's was again plagued by errors, but a great effort by outside hitter Jayden Hiebert (second year, Business, Stony Plain), who had three kills and two aces, helped the Eagles push the set to the distance. The teams traded points in the late going before NAIT eventually persevered 29-27. In the third set, NAIT's offense opened up. Oliver McSwain (fifth year, Open Studies, Fort Smith, N.W.T.) had four kills, Fisher had three kills, one block, and one tip, and Daniel Ward (second year, Personal Fitness Trainer, St. Albert) had two kills and an early block. NAIT won the last set 25-16 to sweep the match.
"We're blessed to be able to attend the championships," said Eagles head coach Patrick Winand. "We know that only half the teams from each division can go, so we're very grateful for our spot. We soaked in the experience, we're taking every ounce of it back to Edmonton and we're going to train that much harder for next year."
The Eagles' Tanner Piers (second year, Social Sciences, Edmonton) had a game-high 13 kills, while Fisher led NAIT with eight kills.
The Ooks will play in the consolation final at 1 p.m. on Saturday against Keyano College. The season has come to an end for The King's Eagles.
Players of the game:
King's: Jayden Hiebert
NAIT: Oliver McSwain