The teams faced off in Lloydminster Friday night with the Rustlers looking to secure a playoff birth with a win.
Friday night's match between the Rustlers and the Eagles was a long one, despite on lasting three sets. While the Rustlers ended up on the wrong side of the 3-0 match, they pushed the Eagles, who only won by 2 in each of the 3 sets. The Rustlers struggled defensively in the first set, as the Eagles had 16 kills in the set. The Eagles strong offense helped them take the first set 25-23. The teams went back and forth for the entirety of the second set, which was a long one, taking over 30 minutes to determine a winner. While the teams were within two points most of the set, Kings was able to take the two-point lead at the end and take the set 31-29. Lakeland looked like they might take the third set but unfortunately were not able to get the win, losing the set 25-23 and the match 3-0.
Leading the Rustlers was third-year outside Alexei Walisser, who finished with 9 kills, 6 digs and 5 blocks for the Rustlers, while fellow third-year, Matt Peck had 7 kills and 9 digs. Player of the game for the Rustlers was third-year outside Cole Sutherland, who finished with 7 kills, 5 digs and 2 blocks.
The Rustlers looked to bounce back Saturday night in Edmonton. Much like Friday night, the first two sets Saturday night were close, decided by 2 and 3 points respectively. The Eagles took the first set 28-26 and followed it up with a 25-22 win of the second set. The third set was all Rustlers, as Lakeland controlled both sides of the ball and took the set 25-12. Lakeland carried the momentum from their third set win into the fourth as the two teams went back and forth early on. Midway through the set, the Eagles were able to pull away and take the set 25-16 and the match 3-1.
Walisser led the way for the Rustlers with 14 kills, 3 digs, and 2 service aces, while third-year setter Jose Arellano added 27 assists, 3 digs, 1 kill and 1 service ace. Third-Year middle Tyler Williamson was named the player of the game for the Rustlers, finishing the match with 5 blocks, 4 kills, 1 dig, and 1 service ace.
The Rustlers sit at 11-11, good for 4th place in the ACAC North Division, with just two games remaining in the regular season. Lakeland will have their bye next weekend before returning to the court February 15th and 16th when they face the NAIT Ooks. The Rustlers will be in Edmonton on Friday night before returning to Lloydminster for their final home game of the season on Saturday.