DAVID LARKINS, Wesmen Athletics
The Winnipeg Wesmen didn't let a shaky start define their return to home court Friday, and pulled away with a victory in their first conference game in more than 600 days.
The Wesmen men's volleyball team dropped the first set but established the tone the rest of the way to drop the Brandon Bobcats 3-1 () in the Canada West conference season-openers for both teams at the Duckworth Centre.
Daniel Thiessen again played the part that made him an all-Canadian in 2019-20, notching 20 kills on 39 swings with just two errors (.462) to lead the Wesmen.
It was the first time the Wesmen played in front of a home crowd since February 2020, and fourth-year setter Matt Klysh said that may have played a part in the Bobcats taking control early on.
"They're a good team and I think we were just a little shellshocked in the start with a great home crowd and the first regular season game," Klysh said. "I think it just took a bit of getting comfortable and starting to talk it out and finally getting into that zone of being aggressive and starting to attack.
Klysh, making his first appearance as Winnipeg's starting setter after playing back-up to veteran Mikael Clegg, had 56 assists, eight digs and an ace.
"It's been a lot of years in the making and I'm pretty lucky to have this group of guys to make it fun to play and Clegg was such a huge part of helping me out to getting me to this point," Klysh said. "It's just putting in time and having a great group of guys building me up."
Freshman middle blocker Paxton Koop made his debut and notched seven kills on 11 swings.
Max Brook led Brandon with 12 kills and Tom Friesen added 10.
Brandon was held to .217 for the night and hit below .200 in Sets 3 and 4.
The two teams meet again Saturday at 5 p.m.