Rallying for first place

The Bisons men’s volleyball team find themselves in a tight race at the midway point of the Canada West season.

After getting off to a perfect 8-0 start, the Bisons hold a slim lead in the standings over the Alberta Bears and Trinity Western Spartans — who sat tied in the standings at 6-0 — heading into week five of the Canada West regular season.
Head coach Garth Pischke discussed how he’s kept the team focused through the first half of the season.

“We’ve just been working hard and trying to do things well on our side of the court,” explained Pischke.

“[We’ve been] keeping things very competitive in practices. We can do that this year because we have a phenomenal group of guys — not just the guys that are seeing all the court time, but the other guys on the bench are great players,” Pischke said.

“They’re pushing our starters every day in practice.”

With a solid core of veteran players, Pischke says this team doesn’t require one or two players stepping up into a leadership role. The guys come to play hard every time they hit the court.

After speaking with Dane Pischke and Chris Voth — two veterans on the team who were recently awarded student-athlete scholarships — it’s clear how focused this team is on not only working on staying consistent during practice and battling hard against their opponents on the court, but also upon excelling in their studies.

Both Pischke and Voth said it requires discipline to remain successful on the court and in the classroom.

“We didn’t see it in the last couple years, but now we’re starting to bring textbooks on road trips,” said Voth, “It’s good to see.”

The No. 3 Bisons will hold their destiny in their hands throughout the remainder of the season. They hosted No. 2 Alberta Nov. 25 and 26 in the last few games before the team heads into the Christmas break.

The Bisons took the first match 3-1 (22-25, 25-18, 25-20,25-10). Each set was as close as you would expect in a game between two of the top teams in the nation. Fortunately, the Bisons came back to win three straight after losing the first set. Voth and Pischke led the Bisons with 15 and 14 kills respectively, as Manitoba served Alberta their first loss of the season and extended their perfect record to 9-0.

Unfortunately, the following day Alberta would come out on top. In another incredibly close match — which was a good illustration of just how evenly matched the teams at the top of the conference are — the Bears were able to squeak out a victory in the fifth and deciding set, winning 3-2 (27-25, 26-28, 25-14, 16-25, 15-11).

The Bisons are on the bye for the last week before the team breaks for the holidays. The team will be travelling to California to start the New Year off playing some non-conference games against UCLA, UCSB and California Baptist, before travelling to Saskatchewan to play Regina on Jan. 13 and 14.