DAVID LARKINS, Wesmen Athletics
After tearing through the month of January to put themselves among the top of the Canada West conference, the Winnipeg Wesmen stumbled in their first steps into February.
Playing for the first time in two weeks, the Wesmen men's volleyball team ran into the Calgary Dinos Friday night, dropping a 3-1 (25-21, 25-22, 16-25, 25-18) Canada West conference decision at the Duckworth Centre.
In the process, the Wesmen fell to 11-8 on the season, while Calgary moved a step closer in the standings — now a match back of Winnipeg for fifth place with three to play.
The Wesmen went 7-1 in the month of January and Friday's loss snapped a three-match win streak.
Calgary, meanwhile, needs a win or a Manitoba loss Saturday to clinch a post-season berth.
Brandon, which beat Manitoba on Friday, moved into sole possession of fourth, one match up on Winnipeg and two up on Calgary.
"I think everything started to gel again (in the third set)," said left side Austin Anderson, who had three kills, six digs and an ace. "We didn't play last weekend, so I think everything just coming back together and playing together I think is a big part of it. So hopefully we'll be able to do that tomorrow."
Daniel Thiessen had his fifth double-double of the season with a match-high 19 kills and 13 digs to lead the Wesmen, who have clinched a playoff spot but have an outside chance at moving into the top four and hosting a first-round series.
Calgary (10-9) was led by Hamish Hazelden and Mac McNicol who both had 13 kills with McNicol adding 11 digs. Liam Kuppe added 12 kills.
The Dinos hit .280 for the night including .303 in the first and .343 in the second.
"This time of the year, you know you're gonna get a battle when you come into Winnipeg," Calgary head coach Rod Durrant said. "They're well-coached, they're prepared. They're ahead of us in the standings, so we needed to come in here and compete with a good team.
"I just think we've got two balanced teams. I think we did a better job in Set 4, coming back and passing the ball a little bit better and allowed our setter to run an offence. It's a battle when we come up against this team and you've just gotta earn your points.
The two teams meet again Saturday at 5 p.m.