Written by ACAC
LETHBRIDGE, Alta. - The NAIT Ooks and Keyano Huskies have battled toe-to-toe all season long, and it was no different in the final game of the year for both teams. The Ooks earned a straight-sets win over their rival Huskies in a consolation final that was closer than the 3-0 score indicated. All three sets went long in the battle for fifth place at the Murray Chevrolet Cadillac 2020 ACAC Men's Volleyball Championship in Lethbridge.
"Our serve game was on point today, we're able to keep them in trouble a lot," said Ooks head coach Greg Gulash. "They have two dominant middle attackers, so keeping them in trouble with our serving was key to kind of slow them down and allowed our transition and defense to do the job."
In the first set, NAIT took the lead early, but Keyano wasn't going to make it easy on them, fighting for every point. The Ooks were eventually able to finish it off, 26-24. NAIT outside hitter and player of the game Daniel Ward (second year, Personal Fitness Trainer, St. Albert) had three kills, while teammate Spencer Fisher (fifth year, Bachelor of Applied Business Administration, Barrhead) had four from the left side. Keyano spread its offensive strength around with 6'6 middle Athus Silva (first year, College Prep, Compis, Brazil) leading with three kills, while outside hitter Trey Weinmeier (third year, University Studies, Spruce Grove) and right side hitter Connor Clark (fifth year, Power Engineering, Waterville, N.S.) both had two kills.
In the second set, NAIT squeaked out another close one, with a 27-25 win. NAIT spread its points around, while Keyano received two kills each from Silva, ACAC north division Rookie of the Year Joao Cunha (first year, College Prep, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) and Clark.
The third set was the first time NAIT had any breathing room as NAIT built an early 9-2 lead before winning 25-20. Devon Klein (fourth year, Construction Engineering Technology, Edmonton) had four sets, while a big kill by Tyler McCartney (second year, Geomatics Engineering Technology, Edson) was enough to finally finish off the Huskies.
"For the whole weekend, we weren't at the standard we needed to be to compete," said Huskies head coach Keegan Kuhr. "We were a good north team, but we weren't good enough to compete against the south and play for a championship, so we have a lot of work to do over the offseason. It's back to the drawing board, and in September, we have to come back in with a higher standard."
Clark led the Huskies with eight kills, while Jonathan Shapka (second year, Denturist Technology, St. Paul) had a team-high nine for the fifth-place NAIT Ooks.
Players of the game:
NAIT – Daniel Ward
Keyano – Anderson King