Back in the big show

Over reading week, the Bisons Men’s Volleyball team came second in the CIS Final Four at Trinity Western University, held Feb. 24 and 25. They defeated the number four seed University of Alberta Golden Bears 3-1 (25-19, 25-16, 22-25, 25-21) on Friday, Feb. 24 in the semi finals, but were defeated in the finals the following day by the defending national champion, Trinity Western Spartans, 3-2 (25-23, 27-29, 23-25, 15-14, 15-9).

Friday’s game against the Golden Bears could have gone either way, but the Bisons’ experience paid off. They were able to fend off Alberta’s attacks, while offensively adapting to the Bears strategies on defence.

The Bisons took control in the beginning of both of the first two sets and never gave the Bears a chance to retaliate. Despite a third set in which the Bears temporarily rattle their Manitoban opponents, the Bisons were able to recover in the fourth. They took the match and moved on to face their biggest rival this season, Trinity Western, in the conference final.

Saturday’s game would be another chapter in the ongoing series between the top two teams in the nation. The first set was closely contested, but ultimately won by the host Spartans 25-23.

Set two was a barnburner. The Bisons pushed the Spartans to their limit, ultimately clinching the set 29-27. With momentum in their favour, the Bisons capitalized in the third, setting up a possibility of winning the match in the fourth set.

Ultimately, the Spartans won because of their strong early leads in the fourth and fifth sets. In both, the Spartans capitalized on their strong hitting, while the Bisons were unable to equal their efforts and were forced to play from behind for the remainder of the match.

A silver medal finish in the Canada West championship gained the Bisons the second seed in the CIS national tournament, hosted by Queen’s University in Kingston, On. on March 2-4.

In their opening match of the national tournament, the Bisons will take on the seventh-seed, Western University, on Friday, March 2.

The semi-finals take place Saturday, with the finals scheduled for Sunday, March 4.

This will be the 26th time that head coach Garth Pischke has coached the Bisons men’s volleyball team all the way to the CIS National Championships. Under Pischke, the Bisons have won nine gold medals, nine silver medals and three bronze medals at the CIS Championships. They last qualified for Nationals in 2006, where they won a bronze medal.