WINNIPEG - It only took three sets for the University of Manitoba Bison men's volleyball team to win their season opener over the University of Saskatchewan Huskies at Investors Group Athletic Centre Friday night.
The Bisons are now 1-0 after going 6-1 in the preseason. The team is ranked second overall in the Canada West division preseason coach's poll.
Devren Dear led Manitoba's offense with 12 kills, while Luke Herr had six digs. Jordan Nowakowski put up 13 kills for Saskatchewan in the losing effort.
The teams battled for every point in the opening set, but the Bisons never trailed. After the home side took an early 7-2 lead, the Huskies answered back and won three straight rallies of their own to narrow the gap. But Saskatchewan couldn't stop Manitoba's dominant attacks. The Bisons combined for nine kills in the first set, while the Huskies committed nine attack errors and Manitoba took the set 25-16.
The back-and-forth action continued in the second, but this time, the Huskies claimed an early 12-8 lead to force a Manitoba timeout. Manitoba fought back and added a four-point streak of their own before a kill from Bison Adam DeJonckheere tied the game at 18. From there, the Bisons only gave up three more points before winning the set 25-21.
The teams stayed evenly matched through the third, but the Bisons again came out on top. Dear led Manitoba's offense and put up eight kills in the set alone to help the Bisons take the third 25-22.
"It feels great," Bison head coach Garth Pischke said after the win. "I'm always worried about Saskatchewan. They're always a very hardworking team that plays every point. You know you're going to get a tough fight. If you get a lead, you know you can't let them back in, because they're not going to quit."
The Bisons will look to win the second game of this doubleheader on Saturday at 6 p.m. at Investors Group Athletic Centre.