Unable to convert on three set points, Griffins lose two close sets in 3-0 defeat at Brandon

Jefferson Morrow, seen in action against Winnipeg earlier this season, led the Griffins with 14 kills on Saturday (Robert Antoniuk photo).
Jefferson Morrow, seen in action against Winnipeg earlier this season, led the Griffins with 14 kills on Saturday (Robert Antoniuk photo).

Jefferson Hagen
MacEwan Athletics

BRANDON, Man. – Late clutch points continue to elude the MacEwan Griffins men's volleyball team.

They had three set points on Saturday, but couldn't net any of them, falling 3-0 to the Brandon Bobcats (26-24, 27-25, 25-18) as the hosts added to a 3-2 Friday win and completed the weekend sweep.

"We gave ourselves chances again," said MacEwan head coach Brad Poplawski. "We had a set point in the first and I think we had two set points in the second. Unfortunately, we just couldn't get that one to close the set out. 

"We're giving ourselves chances. We talk about being in these positions and earning that right. The next step is learning how to close it out."

Their biggest issue is the toughest one to pin down. Happening in multiple matches so far this season, the Griffins haven't been able to close out sets.

"It keeps me up at night, I know that," said Poplawski. "We're trying everything. We're involving our sports psych that works with us."

Unfortunately, there is no magic pill because there is no theme. Other than they're losing the points.

"I don't know if the moment intimidates? It's not like it's one thing that breaks every time," said Poplawski. "Then you could identify it. It's just a guy makes a great swing and the other team makes that dig. 

"We're playing in the best conference in Canada and guys are going to make plays. We have to find a way to make a play ourselves."

Just as it was on Friday, the Griffins' passing was really solid Saturday, but Poplawski noted the Bobcats' block was formidable. 

Jefferson Morrow led MacEwan with 14 kills, two aces and seven digs, while liberos Daniel Hebert and Ryan Wasylyshyn were solid again, with six and four digs, respectively.

Tom Friesen led the Bobcats with 13 kills and five blocks, while Philipp Lauter had 10 kills and six blocks.

With the result, the Bobcats improve to 4-6 in Canada West play, while the Griffins fall to 0-10 and are trying to break a 22-game program-losing streak stretching back a year ago to a win at Mount Royal University.

Despite what their record says or the losing streak indicates, the Griffins are no pushover in Canada West anymore. Most of their sets this season could have gone either way.

"Unfortunately, a lot of years we've been in U SPORTS – and this isn't talking about the current team because a lot of these guys were new to the program – but we were a team where teams could just show up, throw their sticks in the middle and they would get a result because they had better athletes," said Poplawski. "I don't think we're that team anymore. I think we're extremely competitive. Teams have to prepare for us. Teams have to play well to beat us. So, I've seen that evolution. 

"Now, that next step in that evolution is just learning to win. I don't think winning is as hard as we make it sometimes. I don't think it's this magical thing."

The Griffins will close out the first semester with home matches against Trinity Western on Dec. 2-3.