DAVID LARKINS, Wesmen Athletics
It was a record-breaking, heart-breaking night for the Winnipeg Wesmen.
Both liberos broke the previous record for most digs in a Canada West match and the MacEwan Griffins rallied from two sets down to beat the Wesmen women's volleyball team 3-2 (24-26, 20-25, 25-23, 25-22, 18-16) in an epic clash that may go down as the match of the year in the conference.
Wesmen libero Madison Fyvie had a career-high 45 digs, eclipsing the previous Canada West record of 39 set by Brandon's Caitlin Le in November.
But it was MacEwan's Rachel Jorvina who stole the show, digging up everything in sight — including one in the fourth set that sent her flying through the Griffins bench — and setting a new standard with 63 digs on the night.
The Wesmen compiled 141 digs as a team to MacEwan's 139.
The Wesmen hit .102 — and MacEwan .134 — on the night, totals largely attributable to the fact virtually every rally was extended by the defence. The Wesmen had 266 total attacks and MacEwan 253 with Wesmen left side Ashleigh Laube swinging a career-high 78 times, and MacEwan's Lauren Holmes 80, both of which eclipsed the mark for the conference season-high for attacks in a match.
The Wesmen won the first set rallying from 24-21 down by winning five straight points. They were also looking eliminated early in the fifth set trailing 8-3
"We were down in the first set and fought back and won the first set, and second set we were down at the start of the set and fought back and won," Wesmen head coach Phil Hudson said. "The third set we kept plugging away and were close, and fourth set we were close and just couldn't finish them off. And then in the fifth set we were down and out and the kids just kept finding a way to try and get back in there. They really care about how this team does."
Kalena Schulz had 15 kills to lead five Wesmen players in double figures. She also had 13 digs. Laube added 13 and 19, Emma Parker chipped in 10 and 20, and the Wesmen middles combined for 23 kills. Haille Bujan had 12 and Taylor Boughton added 11. Boughton also had two solo blocks and six block assists before leaving the game to an injury late in the fifth set.
Holmes had a match-high 22 kills and McKenna Stevenson had 15 for the Griffins (14-6).
"From the first set it was like that, back and forth," MacEwan head coach Ken Briggs said. "(The Wesmen) make you doubt with the defence they play. I don't know how they touch those balls. They touch every ball and it's so hard to put the ball on the floor. We have not seen anything like that and now I understand how they've gone and split weekends and gone five-setters."