The Lakeland Rustlers split their series with the NAIT Ooks over the weekend, with each team going undefeated on their home court. Friday in Edmonton the Ooks won in three, while Saturday night in Lloydminster, the Rustlers won in three.
Friday night in Edmonton, the Ooks beat the Rustlers in three sets (25-22, 25-21, 25-18), dropping them to 1-4 to start the season. The Rustlers were led by 2nd-year Libero Matt Peck with six kills and five digs. 2nd-Year setter Jose Areliano added 21 assists for the Rustlers. "We had too many errors," Rustlers Head Coach Taylor Dyer said of his team's loss, "we didn't understand the game plan, and we didn't follow through."
Saturday night, the Rustlers flipped the script and defeated the Ooks in 3 sets (25-15, 25-18, 25-16). The Rustlers took control early in the first set and were in control of the match the entire night. The Rustlers opened up a 12-2 lead in the first set and continued to push the Ooks, eventually taking a 17-8 lead. The Ooks tried to fight back, but the Rustlers stuck together and won the set 25-15.
The teams went back and forth to start the second set before the Rustlers took control, forcing the Ooks to call a timeout. The Ooks responded coming out of the timeout, scoring the first few points, but the Rustlers regained control. The Rustlers built a 22-16 lead before going on to win the set 25-18.
The Rustlers came out in the third set ready to finish off the Ooks, as they jumped out to a 7-1 lead. The Rustlers never looked back, winning the set 25-16. The Rustlers were led by Peck with seven kills while Areliano had 19 assists, earning him Player of the Game.
"NAIT was good at home in their gym which put us under a lot of pressure Friday," Dyer said "Saturday, they made a few more errors, and we were strong from our baseline, so we were able to wait for them to make the mistakes. Going forward, we need to get better on the road. We need to get familiar with the gym and get comfortable as quick as we can and then stick to what we do and what our game. The court size doesn't change, we just have to understand that and the mindset that nothing changes, so we just have to play our game."
The Rustlers (2-4) return to the court Friday, November 3, as they host the Concordia Thunder (1-3) at 8:00 pm. The Rustlers and Thunder will then face off Saturday night in Edmonton.