On Feb. 2, the U of M women’s volleyball team made the short cross-town trip to the
Duckworth Centre to take on its bitter rival, the University of Winnipeg Wesmen.
Going into the match, the herd were on a roll, having won six games in a row.
Out of the gate, the Wesmen nabbed the first two sets to take a 2-0 lead, looking for the
However, the Bisons stormed back to take the third set 25-18.
Ultimately, that would be the only set the herd would win, as the Wesmen prevailed in the fourth to take the game 3-1, ending the Bisons’ six game winning streak.
The statistical leaders for the herd on Feb. 2 were Julia Arnold, who collected 20 digs,
Katreena Bentley who dished out 37 assists, Ella Gray who blocked five Wesmen attacks
and rookie Raya Surinx who recorded 11 kills.
The game at home on Feb. 4, however, was a different story altogether.
The Bisons thundered out to an early 1-0 lead, snatching the first set 25-18 with relative
At one point in the second set, the Bisons trailed the Wesmen 19-13. But a prudent time
out call and the savvy substitution of Light Uchechukwu into the game facilitated the Bisons’
29-27 comeback victory in thrilling back and forth action.
In the third and final set, the Bisons steamrolled a defeated Wesmen squad 25-19 to take
the match 3-0 and improve its record to 13-7.
With the victory, head coach Ken Bentley also picked up win number 1,100 with the
When asked if the team plays with extra motivation against a rival like the Wesmen, Bison
second-year Eve Catojo said, “it’s really ingrained in our team philosophy to stay even keel,”
and that “we’re not playing the team, we’re playing the rotation and the number, so it doesn’t
matter who’s on the other side of the net, we’re playing everyone the same.”
Catojo was named player of the match, recording five kills, three blocks and an assist,
making her presence felt in the middle.
“I did everything I could out there to help my team win,” Catojo said.
However, she was swift to point out that individual awards are only reflective of team
success, stating, “it’s not a one-man show, it’s volleyball.”
Alongside Catojo, Arnold was also a key performer in Saturday’s match.
Arnold duplicated her dig output on Feb. 2, once again scrounging up 20 Wesmen attacks,
many of which in the spectacular one-armed lunge style.
Catojo praised Arnold’s excellent performance, saying, “I just love playing with her.”
The Bisons are well positioned heading into the playoffs. The top eight teams make the
playoffs, and the team currently resides in sixth place in the Canada West Conference
(CanWest) standings, coming in at 13-7.
The top four teams in CanWest will also host playoff games beginning Feb. 24. The
Bisons trail the Wesmen and the University of the Fraser Valley Cascades, who sit fourth
and fifth respectively, each with a record of 14-6.
Catojo said the mindset for the team heading into the last two weekends of the regular
season is “basically just nose to the grindstone.”
She emphasized that the team is focused on “making sure every play that we do in
practice is perfect and everything is done with intensity and intention.”
“It’s a good environment to be in, you know, the pressure’s on so we’ve got to really
perform,” she said.
Investors Group Athletic Centre has been a fortress for the Bisons this season, as the
team boasts an extraordinary 11-0 record when playing at home.
The team’s prowess at home makes securing a home playoff match all the more
The herd’s next games are Feb. 10 and 11 against the Fraser Valley Cascades at Investors
Group Athletic Centre.