May 21, 2018

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Wesmen avoid scare in Classic opener

Members of the University of Winnipeg men’s volleyball team took some tentative first steps on the first day of the Wesmen Classic, but it was only a matter of time before they regained their footing.

The No. 7 ranked Wesmen survived an early scare to beat the unranked New Brunswick Varsity Reds 27-29, 25-21, 25-20, 25-18 in the opening round-robin match for both teams at the Duckworth Centre on Thursday night.

Men’s volleyball is making its debut at the Classic this month after 50 years as an event exclusive to men’s basketball.

Dave Bommersbach hammered 14 kills and outside hitter Taylor Howe came off the bench to provide nine more to spark the hosts. Howe, who’s normally a starter but gave way to teammate Daniel Thiessen Thursday, found a way to heat up despite some chilly conditions in the gym.

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Members of the University of Winnipeg men’s volleyball team took some tentative first steps on the first day of the Wesmen Classic, but it was only a matter of time before they regained their footing.

The No. 7 ranked Wesmen survived an early scare to beat the unranked New Brunswick Varsity Reds 27-29, 25-21, 25-20, 25-18 in the opening round-robin match for both teams at the Duckworth Centre on Thursday night.

PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>David Bommersbach misses a block against UNB Thursday evening.</p>

PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

David Bommersbach misses a block against UNB Thursday evening.

Men’s volleyball is making its debut at the Classic this month after 50 years as an event exclusive to men’s basketball.

Dave Bommersbach hammered 14 kills and outside hitter Taylor Howe came off the bench to provide nine more to spark the hosts. Howe, who’s normally a starter but gave way to teammate Daniel Thiessen Thursday, found a way to heat up despite some chilly conditions in the gym.

"Yeah, sometimes it is (tough to get warmed up)," said Howe, who entered the match late in the second set. "It depends on the player as well. There are guys who absolutely hate coming off the bench and some quite thrive. I think the biggest thing, regardless of the type of player you are, is when you’re a little stiff, a little sore and muscles are starting to get cold and cramping, (you say), ‘OK, I’ve got to get myself back to that high level.’"

Wesmen head coach Larry McKay was relieved with the turnaround.

"I hoped it wouldn’t happen, but when it did, it seemed to fit," McKay said of the slow start. "We haven’t played since Dec. 1, and it’s a big event and there were going to be some nerves. So, just trying to sort that out and find a decent level of our skill. That was the big challenge there."

Wesmen setter Mikael Clegg wasn’t fazed by the early stumble.

"I wouldn’t say it’s so much of a scare, other than it was we weren’t prepared to play," Clegg said. "We come out slow and built and finally find our stride at the end of that first set and it usually ends up well for us."

The Wesmen also had a better serving game than New Brunswick. Winnipeg got aces from Ethan Duncan, with two, and one from Bommersbach.

Earlier, the Laval Rouge et Or went the distance to beat No. 11 Ryerson Rams (25-23, 21-25, 25-23, 20-25, 15-13), the No. 4 Brandon Bobcats swept the Regina Cougars (25-13, 25-18, 25-22) and the Manitoba Bisons edged the Western Ontario Mustangs (25-23, 25-23, 23-25, 25-23).

Round-robin play continues today with playoff action slated for Saturday, beginning at 9:30 a.m. The tournament final is scheduled for 8 p.m. Saturday.

mike.sawatzky@freepress.mb.caTwitter: @sawa14

Read more by Mike Sawatzky.

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History

Updated on Friday, December 29, 2017 at 7:28 AM CST: Photo added.

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