The UNB Saint John men’s volleyball team saw their ACAA Championship dreams stay alive as they beat their New Brunswick rivals, the St Thomas University Tommies in three straight sets.
The semi-final was played in front of a full crowd of Tommie and Seawolf supporters at Dalhousie Agricultural Campus in Truro, NB.
The first set started out strong for the Wolves, as setter Patrick Kendall started with two service aces, followed by a couple of big hits from both Luke O’Grady and Hebert Compagner.
The Tommies found themselves unable to keep the ball in bounds, and the Wolves took an early 11-7 lead.
After trailing the Wolves for almost the entire set, the Tommies called their first timeout. Unfortunately, this didn’t do anything for them as a kill from Nick Fraser brought the score up to 16-10 for the Seawolves.
Both teams traded points, with UNB Saint John outscoring their opponentsand coming out on top with a score of 21-13.
St Thomas finally responded with a kill of their own, followed by a double block from Tommies bringing the score up to 22-16.
UNB Saint John than called a timeout to try to stop the momentum shift heading the Tommies way.
Francis Sirois of the from STU, proceeded to float the ball over the next to close the gap to four points.
At match point for the Seawolves, Compagner hit the ball into the net and gave the Tommies a bit of hope.
Fortunately, Zane Hamilton smashed the ball past the Tommies defense to finish the set 25-21.
The second set started with receiving error from St Thomas, followed by a kill from O’Grady which brought the fans to their feet as Seawolves continued with their first Quarter momentum.
Jacob McLean, libero for the Seawolves, had some great digs throughout the set and had a few words to say post game.
“We came out and we played the way we had to play. That’s what we’ve got to do tomorrow, gotta be scrappy and ready to rock.”
Both teams traded points back and forth, staying close the whole time.
A service ace from Sirois allowed the Tommies to take their first lead of the game, but Stephane Blinn made an error which quickly stopped any momentum.
The Tommies went on a quick run, and at 11-8 UNB Saint John called their first time out of the second set.
Lack of communication from both teams resulted in missed sets and digs, and the Wolves found themselves down 14-13.
A kill from Hamilton into the left-hand corner of the STU court brought the score back to 14-14.
Hamilton continued his show of dominance with a solo block and another hit, reminding everyone in attendance why he had been named ACAA Rookie of the Year last night.
At 21-18 for the Wolves, St Thomas called a timeout in order to regain their composure.
A couple of miscommunicated plays from the Wolves allowed the Tommies to close the gap, bringing it to 23-22 before UNB Saint John called a timeout.
Right out of the time out, St Thomas snatched a service ace, followed by a long rally that ended in another point.
A kill from Fraser tied the second set at 24-24, and the Tommies called another timeout.
A beautiful dig and several long rallies, followed by a block from Hamilton, gave the Wolves the lead of 25-24.
Peter Banks was serving match point, which resulted in a kill from Fraser and a receiving error from St Thomas, which allowed them to take the second set 26-24.
St. Thomas started the third set strong, going 2-0 resulting from a few attack errors from UNB Saint John. After that, both teams traded points back and forth, until St Thomas, led by Marc Blinn, took an 8-5 lead.
St Thomas kept pulling ahead by a point or two and every time the Wolves scored, the Tommies were able to respond.
With a score of 16-14, Kendall managed an incredible save running under the net, which brought the score back within 1.
UNB Saint John called a timeout as the score came closer to 25, which gave them some time to regroup.
A huge kill from Fraser brought the score to 24-22, and Hamilton ended the third and final set with a well-placed service ace, advancing the Seawolves to the final.
“It’s good to take them out after last year, losing in the finals but its nice to come and 3-0 them, but we’re only half done. We got a big game tomorrow, Hollands a good team, we’ve got to come out and play,” said Kendall, Seawolves setter, after the game.
O’Grady was named player of the game for the Seawolves with nine kills and 13 digs, while M. Blinn was awarded player of the game for STU with 16 assists and five digs.
The Seawolves and the Holland College Hurricanes will face off at 2:30 pm on Sunday, February 26 for the ACAA 2017 Volleyball Championship. The winner will travel to London, Ontario to participate in CCAA Nationals at Fanshawe College.
All games can be streamed at acaatv.ca