EDMONTON — The No.6 University of Alberta Golden Bears have got their mojo back. Alberta flexed their muscle and overpowered the University of Winnipeg Wesmen in a straight-sets victory (25-10, 25-19, 25-21), Friday night at Saville Community Sports Centre.
Second-year outside hitter Braedon Friesen led Alberta with 15 kills and three digs, while third-year outside hitter Jackson Kennedy and fifth-year middle George Hobern respectively chipped in with nine and seven kills. Both also recorded six digs apiece.
Max Elgert recorded 39 assists in the win, while Daniel Thiessen led Winnipeg with 10 kills in the loss.
Alberta improves to 5-2, while Winnipeg drops to 2-5 this season.
“We had a really good week of training, but what we demand of the guys is to not just be good, you have to compete, and our guys really did that tonight,” said Bears head coach Brock Davidiuk. “You could tell they were really focused and wanted to set the tone from the onset.”
Winnipeg struggled from the service line and they finished with just 13 digs through three sets as Alberta’s offence was just too powerful.
Winnipeg had eight return errors and 10 service errors through the three sets. The only time Alberta trailed was when Winnipeg led 1-0 in the second set.
Alberta’s attacking percentage was .411 as a team.
“That’s a credit to Max and the way he runs the offence. We have some big bangers as Braedon has one of the best arms in the league in terms of velocity and Jordan and Jackson are really strong on the outside,” said Davidiuk. “Billy (Johnstone) has really been a force in the middle and George has really challenged himself this year to be a strong attacker this year and man was he ever smashing it.”
Winnipeg played much better in the second and third sets, recording attack percentages of 51% and 66%, but Alberta didn’t give the Wesmen any opportunities to gain any traction.
Alberta got off to another hot start in the third set, jumping out to an early 4-0 lead. Winnipeg showed some push back, but middle Billy Johnstone had his strongest set with three kills, including back-to-back kills to give Alberta a 16-10 lead and the Golden Bears finished strong.
The Golden Bears have won four of their last five and are starting to really find their stride as the Canada West season embarks on the midway point of the year.
“We’re really starting to play with confidence,” said Davidiuk. “We had that little hiccup last weekend against TRU (Thompson Rivers University), but the guys are buying in and they're really committed and you can see it in the results.”
Alberta will wrap up their weekend series with Winnipeg on Saturday at approximately 6:30 p.m. before hosting the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds next weekend (Nov.29-30) to close out the 2019 half of the regular season.