EDMONTON – Seemingly on their way to taking a set and gaining a foothold in Friday's Canada West men's volleyball match, the MacEwan Griffins lost a 22-20 lead in Set 3, conceded a 5-0 run and were swept by the cross-town rival Alberta Golden Bears.
Just like that, the evening at the David Atkinson Gym ended quickly in a 25-18, 25-14, 25-22 result.
As a result, Alberta improves to 11-4 in the standings, while MacEwan falls to 2-13.
Alberta head coach Brock Davidiuk called a timeout with his troops trailing 22-20 in the third set and they didn't drop a point after.
"It was really one of our captains, George (Hobern), going back there and igniting us with his serve and other guys rallying around that," he said. "That's been our biggest focus. How are we going to be in those moments?
"I think we decided who we were going to be."
Jordan Canham led the Bears with 15 kills on a .385 attacking percentage, while Braedon Friesen added 11 kills on a .389 with three service aces. Max Elgert had 35 assists.
Max Vriend led the Griffins with 10 kills, while Jordan Peters had nine. Setter Jonathan Mohler, starting his first game in more than two months after healing from an injury, produced 21 assists.
MacEwan went toe-to-toe with Alberta early in the match as the Golden Bears held a slim 16-15 lead at the technical timeout of the first set. But they barged out of that on a 9-3 trot and quickly took a 1-0 lead in the match off Braedon Friesen's set-ending kill.
The second set was all Golden Bears as they cruised to a 16-9 lead at the technical timeout and closed it out on Carter McIntyre's kill.
MacEwan, however, had control of the third set nearly the whole way, leading 10-5 to start as Max Vriend started to heat up. Even when the Bears clawed back to tie it 19-19, it was the Griffins who appeared lunging towards the finish line. Until they didn't.
Davidiuk always expects the third set to be the toughest to close out, but he was proud of how the Bears persevered through some adversity.
"It's a best of five, so once the first two are gone, you're playing for keeps after that and MacEwan got on us early and we started sharing errors," he said. "It was a good opportunity for us to figure that out. It's something we've talked about a lot, coming up with plans and training. I'm glad to see we were able to figure it out at the end of the set. We need to figure it out earlier, though."
The teams will meet in the rematch on Saturday (6:30 p.m., David Atkinson Gym, Canada West TV presented by Co-op).