REGINA, Sask. – The University of Regina's men's volleyball team won the first two sets, but couldn't complete the upset over No. 8 Saskatchewan as the Huskies won it in five on Friday night at the Centre for Kinesiology, Health & Sport.
Playing without head coach Greg Barthel who suffered a serious knee injury in practice this week, the Cougars stormed out of the gates under the direction of acting coach Lee Hamilton with 26-24 and 25-20 wins in the first two sets.
But Saskatchewan (4-1) found its game late in that second set, going on an 11-3 run to make it interesting. That momentum continued into the third and fourth sets, with the Huskies winning 25-18 and 25-17 to push the match to five.
The Huskies looked to be rolling to victory in the fifth after taking a 12-7 lead, but the Cougars fought back by scoring six of the next seven points to tie it up at 13-13. They avoided a Saskatchewan set point at 14-13 with a Huskies service error, and that led to the pivotal moment in the match. The Cougars looked to have taken their first lead of the deciding set after Michael Corrigan and Conal McAinsh blocked a left-side attack by Saskatchewan's Aidan Saladana. But the play was kept alive by the combination of an up by Etienne Hagenbuch and a kick save by Andrew Nelson, and the Huskies ended up taking the point to go back up by one. A Brennan Goski kill drew the Cougars even one last time at 15-15, but Saskatchewan clinched the match with consecutive points on a Nelson kill and an attack error by the Cougars.
Saladana didn't start for the Huskies, but came on late in the first set and had a massive match. 11 of his first 12 attacks went down for kills, and the first-year transfer from the University of Alberta finished with a match-high 18 kills and just two errors on 27 attacks for a .593 hitting percentage. Nelson finished with 14 kills, while Tyler Epp had seven kills and hit .700 while also compiling six blocks and five digs. Derek Epp replaced starting setter Troy Wiebe in the second set and finished with 33 assists, five digs, and four blocks in four sets played.
Goski led the Cougars (0-5) with 16 kills and hit .344 during the match, while Matthew Aubrey wasn't far behind with 15 kills and a .303 hitting percentage. Dalton Wolfe added 11 kills, while Cody Caldwell led all players with seven blocks and Michael Corrigan had the match's lone double-double with 39 assists and 10 digs.
The two teams will battle again on Saturday night (7:00) at the CKHS following the conclusion of the women's match.