By Woodard, Dale on February 28, 2020.
Perhaps it wasn’t their best foot forward, but the Lethbridge College Kodiaks have stepped into the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference semifinals.
The Kodiaks capped off the four-game opening day of the Murray Chevrolet Cadillac 2020 ACAC Men’s Volleyball Championships with a 3-0 win over the Lakeland College Rustlers Thursday night at the Val Matteotti Gymnasium.
Playing in front of a noisy, and packed, Val Matteotti Gymnasium, the Kodiaks rattled off 25-20, 25-18, 25-18 wins to earn the sweep and set up a south showdown against the SAIT Trojans tonight at 8 p.m.
Still, Kodiaks head coach Greg Gibos said his team will need a better showing than the one they had Thursday if the they wish to go for gold on Saturday.
“If I had to say what we were tonight I would say we were six-out-of-10,” said Gibos. “I think the nervous energy was clearly evident tonight. We know we’re going to have to be better (tonight) if we want to be successful.
“It’s the first time hosting and the first time for a bunch of young guys trying to get together (and) the nerves are going to be a part of it. So we’re going to take it as a learning experience and (tonight) we’re going to bounce back and hopefully it will be our best game of the year.”
Carter Hansen had 13 kills for the Kodiaks and Nolan Moes had 10 and two service aces.
Michael Hummel added eight digs and one service ace and Quinn Buchanan had five blocked shots.
For the Rustlers, Ryan Van Oosterwijck had six kills and Abner Jean Carlo Junez Raudales contributed eight digs.
“Exactly what Greg said,” said Hummel. “It wasn’t clean on our end, but we found a way to get it done.”
Gibos noted a few communication breakdowns.
“You could see the guys get a little bit wide-eyed in the heat of the moment, so for us that’s making a lot of errors. For us, if we went and looked at the errors versus their points earned I bet they were pretty close to even. I don’t think they beat us with a lot of kills, I think it was more our mistakes and when we play a team like SAIT tonight we know we’re going to have to be a better.”
Hummel said the defensive intensity against the 17-7 Trojans will have to increase tonight.
“We let a few more balls drop than we should have. So we’ll watch the film, pick out some stuff like that and we’ll work on that for (tonight).”
The teams split a series two weekends ago
“We know that team is going to come at us with everything,” said Gibos. “It’s one game and the winner goes to nationals. So for us, we have to make sure we bring the energy we brought the last time they were in this gym two Saturdays ago and don’t let them do what they did to us Friday night of that weekend. We can both be very good teams and we can both be a little bit streaky and we need to be our best tomorrow because everything is on the line.”
The packed gym perhaps created some nervous energy for his roster, but Gibos nonetheless took a moment to soak up the home town support.
“If you would have told me four years ago that we would have this in Lethbridge as a basketball community I think everyone would have laughed at us,” he said. “To show what has gone on in this gym the last four years, that’s what means the most. So it’s pretty special.”
In other action, one of the 20-4 teams fell, as did the defending ACAC champs.
The North Division top-ranked NAIT Ooks fell 3-1 to the Briercrest Clippers in the second game of the afternoon.
After that, the Trojans topped the Keyano Huskies 3-1.
In Thursday’s opener, the Red Deer Kings dispatched the Kings University Eagles 3-1.
That sets up today’s play as the Eagles and Ooks get things started on the consolation side at 1 p.m., followed by the Huskies and Rustlers at 3 p.m.
The semifinals start at 6 p.m. as the Clippers take the court against the Kings.
The Kodiaks and Trojans are the last game of the night at 8 p.m.
Saturday’s consolation final is slated for 1 p.m. The bronze medal game is at 3 p.m. with the gold medal game following at 5:30 p.m.
NOTES – Two Kodiaks were named ACAC men’s volleyball all-stars at the ACAC banquet Wednesday night.
Named to the South Division all-conference team was Hansen for the second-straight season, while second-year middle Buchanan earned his first all-star nod.
Hansen, a Magrath product, played all five years of his ACAC career with the Kodiaks and became the ACAC’s all-time kills leader this season, finishing his regular season career with 1,370 kills.
He finished second in kills per set in the conference this season, averaging 3.69 and was also third in the ACAC in total attacks and points, sixth in service aces and 12th in hitting percentage.
A Catholic Central graduate, Buchanan was a force at the net, as he finished second on the Kodiaks and 14th in the conference in blocks.
After the second set, the Kodiaks also honoured the women’s cross country running team, who won the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association cross-country title in November in Grande Prairie, with championship rings.
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