The UNB Varsity Reds will have a chance to win the AUS men’s volleyball title at home on Sunday, after toppling Dalhousie 3-1 to escape Halifax with a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three final.
The Tigers took the first set 25-23 and looked to be on their way to victory. But the V-Reds had other plans, answering right back to win three consecutive sets by scores of 25-22, 25-17 and 25-23 to send Dal’s faithful home disappointed.
V-Reds head coach Dan McMorran was happy with the win but stressed that his team can’t get ahead of themselves.
“We didn’t have a great start, but I was pleased that our team was able to withstand a few runs by Dalhousie,” says McMorran.
“We’re looking to play a better game on Sunday than we did today. We know Dal is going to be ready for us.”
Julio Fernandez and Marc White led the charge for UNB with 13 kills apiece, while Bryan Duquette had a game-high 17 for the Tigers in a losing effort. Duquette and Fernandez were named AUS players of the game.
If the Tigers take Game Two, the series will return to Halifax for a deciding Game 3 on Friday, Feb. 22.
Dal head coach Dan Ota is confident his team can bounce back from the tough loss.
“There were a lot of plays that could have gone either way where UNB got the benefit of,” says Ota. “We’re going to learn from what happened tonight and make sure it’s better on Sunday.”
Duquette echoed his coach’s sentiment.
“If we stick to our game plan, we’ll be fine,” he says. “As long as we do the little things right, we’ll take care of business.”
Dal is aiming for their second consecutive title. They have won 31 of the last 33 AUS championships.
For fifth-year UNB libero Matt Sweet, the chance to win the men’s volleyball crown at home in his last year would be a dream come true.
“It’s going to be a huge crowd at home for Game 2,” says Sweet. “If we play the way we know we’re capable of, we can win this thing. I would be a very happy man.”
It’s now do-or-die time for the Dalhousie Tigers. If they are to win another banner, a different Tiger team will have to show up Sunday night.