The Lakeland Rustlers Men's Volleyball team split their opening weekend matchup with the King's Eagles, with each team winning on their home court.
Friday night in Lloydminster, the Rustlers defeated the Eagles in 4 sets (25-23, 25-20, 25-27, 25-21). The Rustlers took the lead early in the first set and while the Eagles fought back and made it close, the Rustlers hung on to win 25-23. In the second set, the Rustlers jumped out to a 5-0 lead. The Eagles once again fought back to cut the Rustlers lead to 9-6. The Rustlers continued their strong play, building a 20-13 lead.
The Rustlers let the Eagles cut into their lead again, but the Rustlers would win the set 25-20. The Rustlers once again started the third set strong, getting out to a 6-1 lead. The Eagles responded with strong play of their own, cutting the lead to 9-8, before tying the game at 10. The Rustlers were able to force the Eagles to commit errors, helping the Rustlers take a 17-12 lead, but then let the Eagles back into the game, tying the score at 21. The two teams would continue to trade points before the Eagles won the set, 27-25.
The teams would continue to go back and forth to start the fourth set before the Rustlers took a 12-9 lead. While the teams continued to trade points for the rest of the set, the Rustlers had built enough of a lead to win the set 25-21.
Player of the Game for the Rustlers was #10 Spencer Roziere.
2nd-yer libero Matt Peck was excited with what he saw from his team Friday night and going forward with the rest of the season.
"We all decided this year we wanted to do much better than last year," Peck said. "We are stronger defensively (than last year). We got some digs (tonight) and turned them into transition points and made it hard for them to score. The win tonight is huge. We knew we had a really good preseason, but we didn't know where we were at compared to other teams so to come out and get that first win and know that we are at least better than them tonight, that's huge for us and gives us a lot of confidence."
Rustlers Head Coach Taylor Dyer echoed Peck's thoughts on getting the first win. "It's huge," Dyer said. "These guys have worked so hard, this is what they deserve. I am glad they were able to experience success so early. I am excited about these guys and super happy they got the win."
Saturday night in Edmonton, the Rustlers would drop 3 straight sets to the Eagles, losing 3-0 (22-25, 20-25, 20-25). Peck had ten kills and ten digs for the Rustlers, and 2nd-year middle Tyler Williamson and 2nd-year outside Brayden Griffith each had six kills. 2nd-year setter Jose Areliano and 2nd-year outside Cole Sutherland did a good job passing, with 19 and ten assists respectively. The Rustlers committed 19 errors while only forcing the Eagles to commit 7.
While just one week of regular season is in the books, Dyer is excited by the changes he sees from last year's team. "We are more aggressive," Dyer said. We can put pressure on teams with our serve and our ball control. Having guys like Matt (Peck) and Jean Carlo (Funez) passing for us all the time are two steady guys that will make it hard for other teams to put the pressure on us."
The Rustlers return to the court next weekend when they host the GPRC Wolves. Game time is 8: pm on Friday and 3:00 pm on Saturday.