Tight sets go against Griffins in 3-0 defeat to Huskies

Max Vriend led the Griffins against Saskatchewan on Friday night with nine kills (Eduardo Perez photo).
Max Vriend led the Griffins against Saskatchewan on Friday night with nine kills (Eduardo Perez photo).

Jefferson Hagen, MacEwan Athletics

-With files from Saskatchewan Huskies Athletics

SASKATOON – In what's becoming an all-too-familiar refrain, the MacEwan Griffins deserved a better fate than Friday's 3-0 loss to the Saskatchewan Huskies suggests.

"We've really said that a lot this year," sighed head coach Brad Poplawski after his squad fell 25-17, 26-24, 28-26 and are now 1-10 on the season. "We lose two sets by two again. We were up 16-11 in the second. It's very frustrating. We can play so well at times and then we just stop."

The first set was all Saskatchewan thanks in large part to Levi Olson. The product of Saskatoon finished on six of his seven swings as the Huskies led from start to finish.

But MacEwan's offence came to life in the second set, giving them a chance to take the set holding a 24-23 lead. However, back-to-back kills by Connor Murray and an emphatic swing to end the set from Daven Pascal gave the Huskies the narrow win instead.

It was more of the same in the third with the teams battling throughout the set before the Huskies took advantage of back-to-back errors from MacEwan to clinch the match.

"We've started calling it noise," said Poplawski of devastating lost points in between incredibly well-executed kills. "We'll be playing well and then there's three or four points we make dumb plays or not good plays. One time it's a bad pass, then it's a bad set or it's a bad swing or a bad block and it's a four-point run. Then all of a sudden on the fifth point, we pass great, get a great set and an absolutely massive kill. So, we eventually side out, but it takes us four or five points.

"We're trying to get rid of that noise in between and we're not doing a good enough job of doing it quick enough. It's frustrating."

Max Vriend led the way for MacEwan with nine kills and two service aces while Jefferson Morrow added seven kills.

Daulton Sinoski and Olson were the spearhead of the Huskies attack, finishing with 15 and 10 kills respectively. For Olson it was a career-high in kills as the third-year outside hitter had the best night of his Huskies career.

These two teams are back in action on Saturday (4 p.m. MT, Canada West TV presented by Co-op).

There are certainly some things the Griffins can build on, at times taking the play to the Huskies.

"We did some good things," said Poplawski. "I thought the guys' preparation coming into this weekend was great coming off Christmas there's a lot of adversity. We haven't trained. We only had six practices before we had to come in here.

"Again, our high level was really high. It comes back to that repeatability factor."