Nicole Betker, University of Saskatchewan
SASKATOON – The No.4 ranked University of Alberta Golden Bears held on to a 3-2 (25-18, 25-21, 21-25, 23-25, 17-15) win over the No. 7 ranked University of Saskatchewan Huskies Friday night at the PAC in Saskatoon.
After Alberta looked in control in the first two sets by erasing Huskie leads in both, Saskatchewan started to make the bid for the comeback with a convincing win in the third. Alberta took over after Saskatchewan led early in the first set and recovered from a six point deficit in the second. The Huskies jumped out to a five point lead in the third and didn't give it up.
The two top ranked teams played much closer in the fourth game matching each other eight times in the race to 25 points. Tied for the final time at 23 after a Saskatchewan attack error, the Huskies scored the next point on a Colin Fraser attack. A long Alberta attack sealed the Saskatchewan win 25-23.
The close play continued in the deciding set with neither team holding more than a two-point lead. Alberta and Saskatchewan were tied 13 times in the set. Tied at 15 after a block by Saskatchewan's Daulton Sinoski and Andrew Nelson, the Golden Bears pulled to match point on a Ryan Nickifor attack the Huskies couldn't dig up. A Brett Walsh and Nickifor block sealed the 17-15 match win.
With the win, Alberta moves to 11-2 on the season. Saskatchewan drops to 7-6.
Nikifor let the Golden Bears to the win with 19 kills, while Taylor Arnett added another 16. Reed May recorded 11 digs.
Nelson led Saskatchewan with 16 kills, while Fraser and Zak Rempel added 15 each. Fraser tallied a team-high 11 kills. Rookie setter Derek Epp recorded 58 assists and 10 digs.
The battle of the Top 10 teams continues Saturday night on Ron & Jane Graham Court at the PAC. First serve is 8 p.m.