Still looking for their first win of 2019, the Lakeland Rustlers Men's Volleyball team took on the Concordia Thunder over the weekend.
The Thunder came out strong to start the first set, while the Rustlers looked slow and sluggish. It looked like it was going to be an easy win for the Thunder, but the Rustlers were able to creep back in and put pressure on the Thunder late in the set. The Rustlers, however, were not able to complete the comeback, losing the first set 25-22. The energy the Rustlers built from their comeback in the first set carried over into the second, as they controlled the play from the first serve. The Rustlers took the second set 25-16.
The teams went back and forth in the third set, with each team forcing the other into committing errors. The Rustlers were able to take the lead late and maintain it, on the way to a 25-22 win. The teams went back and forth again to start the fourth set, with each team going on a small run and taking the lead. The Rustlers committed too many errors late in the set, allowing the Thunder to go on a run and take the set 25-23.
The fifth set was an exciting, action pack set, with both teams fighting hard for the win. The Rustlers took the lead early in the set, but the Thunder fought back. In the end, the Rustlers were able to score consecutive points when it mattered most, winning 17-15.
The Rustlers were led by third-year outside Alexei Walisser with 24 kills and nine digs, while third-year libero Matt Peck added 11 kills, 11 digs, a service ace, and a block. Player of the Game for the Rustlers was third-year libero JC Funez with 20 digs and a kill.
After an exciting match Friday night in Edmonton, the teams faced off again Saturday night in Edmonton. The Thunder went on a run in the first set, helping them take the lead and control play early on. The Thunder would win the first set 25-22. The Rustlers responded in the second set, defeating the Thunder 25-18. The teams would continue to go back and forth and battle for the win, trading wins in the third and fourth sets. The Thunder would take the third set 25-22 before the Rustlers took the fourth set 25-18. The back and forth action continued in the fifth set. The Rustlers were able to take advantage of a missed serve by the Thunder, winning the set 15-13 and the match 3-2.
Walisser had another strong game for the Rustlers, finishing the match with 20 kills, 14 digs, a block, and a service ace, while third-year setter Jose Arellano ran the offense, finishing with 40 assists, 18 digs, a block, and a service ace. Player of the Game for the Rustlers was third-year middle Tyler Williamson with 13 kills, five digs, and four blocks.
The Rustlers are on the road next weekend, as they travel to Fort McMurray to take on the Keyano Huskies (13-1). The Rustlers return home January 25th & 26th as they host the Grand Prairie Wolves (3-13).