Griffins can't recover from slow start, drop 3-0 decision to MRU Cougars

Jefferson Morrow hit against MRU during a match earlier this season. He led the Griffins with 10 kills on Saturday (Eduardo Perez photo).
Jefferson Morrow hit against MRU during a match earlier this season. He led the Griffins with 10 kills on Saturday (Eduardo Perez photo).

Jefferson Hagen
MacEwan Athletics

CALGARY – A slow start proved to be the undoing of the MacEwan Griffins men's volleyball team in a 3-0 loss to the Mount Royal University Cougars on Saturday night.

The visitors trailed the entire first set and chased the rest of the game in a 25-17, 25-21, 25-23 defeat that wrapped up a weekend sweep for MRU.

"I'm not sure why we're having trouble getting started," said MacEwan head coach Brad Poplawski. "That's our last four matches now where we've been really slow out of the gates. We've got to figure out how to start on time.

"In this league, you drop down four or five points early, it's really tough to come back from. You can't just keep giving away the first set and saying we'll get it going in the second."

With the result, the Griffins fall to 1-9 on the Canada West campaign, while the Cougars improve to 4-6.

The Griffins never led in the first set and were in tough after the Cougars reached 20 with a seven-point advantage and wrapped it up on Joao Pedro Freire's service ace.

In Set 2, MacEwan was neck and neck throughout, but lost pace with the Cougars after the technical timeout, needing to rally hard for the late points, but were only able to get within three. MRU wrapped it up on Jacob Van Geel's kill.

Finally, the Griffins were able to sustain a lead in Set 3, up by as much as four points mid-match and they took a 16-13 advantage into the technical timeout. But the Cougars were again sharper on the clutch points, reaching 20 first and eked out a 25-23 victory.

"At times we pushed in the second and third, but never really felt like we were in control," said Poplawski. "Even when we had leads, it just felt very tenuous. We were very much reacting to what they were doing and not really pushing the issue We were kind of spectating on a lot of stuff. We just never really got anything going tonight, unfortunately."

Chris Byam led the Cougars with 16 kills and three blocks, while Van Geel had 14 kills and eight digs. Keal Prince racked up 36 assists and three blocks.

MacEwan was led by Jefferson Morrow, who produced 10 kills and seven digs, while Carsten Bergeron found some success in the middle with four kills on a .333 percentage.

"Jefferson Morrow had a decent game," said Poplawski. "His passing was solid, his offence was good again. He's just steady for us. He's just that perfect P2 position for us. So, he's doing some really good things and I thought he showed some good stuff tonight."

The Griffins now return home to host Calgary on Jan. 28-29, while the Cougars visit Alberta.