Griffins battle valiantly but No. 2-ranked Golden Bears too much in 3-0 loss

Mitchel Gorman led the Griffins with 11 kills on Saturday (Eduardo Perez photo).
Mitchel Gorman led the Griffins with 11 kills on Saturday (Eduardo Perez photo).

Jason Hills 
For MacEwan Athletics 
EDMONTON – It's a tall task for the MacEwan Griffins to try and beat the No.2 ranked team in the country, and they battled hard, but they were simply overpowered by the Alberta Golden Bears. 

But, despite the three-set loss (25-16, 25-19, 25-20), on Saturday at the David Atkinson Gym, the Griffins can draw some positives. 

"Ultimately, they're a super physical team. I think they have a four-inch (height) advantage over us, but we competed hard. I think we got beat by their block, they're a great serving team and they were just simply the better team today," said Griffins outside hitter Mitchel Gorman

"We pushed them in a set last night, and outside of the first set, I thought we stayed with them in the second and third sets today, but we still have lots to learn and lots to improve on." 

Gorman led the Griffins with 11 kills and four digs, while Alexander Lyndon had 18 assists in the loss as MacEwan fell to 0-20 this season. 

Alberta was led by their powerful 1-2 punch of Isaac Heslinga and Jacob Sargent who had 10 kills each. Heslinga also chipped in with five digs as the Golden Bears improved to 15-5 this year. 

After the Griffins pushed Alberta to the limit in the second set on Friday, the Golden Bears came out firing in the opening set on Saturday, leading the entire distance and, as a team, put together a .550 hitting percentage as they seemed to score at will. 

"Our passing was better tonight, but I thought in the first set, we let them side-out way too often, but then we were able to get better after that," said Gorman. 

Alberta led the entire distance again in the second set, but MacEwan was able to keep the gap a little closer, as they kept chipping away at the Golden Bears. 

A Daylan Andison kill cut Alberta's lead to 18-15, but that would be as close as MacEwan could get in the second set. 

In the third set, Alberta was able to take their first lead in the very early stages, but a big block from Jonah Karsten tied the set at 8-8 as the Griffins put up a strong fight in the third set and didn't lay down easy. 

A kill from Gorman and a service ace from Lyndon trimmed Alberta's lead to 22-19, and then another big kill from Gorman made it 23-20, but Liam Espedido finished the match with a powerful service ace. 

"We come into every match wanting to win, and we pursue it, but we know we're up against some real tough odds, so it's important that we try to take as many positives as we can out of these losses," said Gorman. 

Daylan Andison swings against the Golden Bears' block on Saturday (Eduardo Perez photo).

Against a team like Alberta, MacEwan's lack of size compared to the Golden Bears played a big factor as it changes how teams attack when they're facing strong powerful middles who certainly don't lack height. 

"It's definitely a different game when you play a team with so much height like them," said Gorman. 

"When you're swinging, you're usually trying to aim deep in the court, but a guy my size against a guy their size, you have to aim out of the court sometimes, even towards the wall, just to try and chip it off their hands. 

"We were able to do that at times today, but definitely not enough." 

MacEwan will now go on the road to face the Trinity Western Spartans next weekend, before wrapping up their regular season at home against UBC Okanagan.