It was a battle between two nationally ranked teams on the weekend when the Lakeland Rustlers faced off against The Kings University Eagles.
Friday night in Lloydminster, the Rustlers defeated the Eagles in 4 sets (25-16, 25-17, 20-25, 25-20). The Rustlers came out strong in the first two sets, looking to show everyone that they were the top team in the ACAC North Division. The Rustlers controlled both sides of the ball, winning the first two sets 25-16 and 25-17 respectively. The teams would go back and forth in the third set, each looking to take the momentum and get the win. Kings got the momentum late, taking the set 25-22. The Rustlers responded in the fourth set, staying consistent and playing their style. Lakeland held the lead for most of the set, on the way to the 25-20 set win and 3-1 match win.
Fifth-year setter Rae Sigurdson led the Rustlers with 43 assists, 4 kills, 5 digs and 1 block, earning her player of the game. The Rustlers also got strong play from fellow fifth-year Ahnika Kuse with 13 kills, 12 digs, 2 service aces, and 2 blocks, while second-year libero Hailee McKenna finished the match with 17 digs.
The Rustlers traveled to Edmonton Saturday night for what was expected to be another tough match. The two teams battled hard for 5 sets, with neither wanting to give the other a chance to take the lead. The Eagles took the first set 25-19, but the Rustlers bounced back and took the second set 25-23. The intensity increased in the third set, as the teams continued to go back and forth. The Eagles took the third set 29-27, giving them a 2-1 lead. The Rustlers would not go away without a fight and pushed the Eagles in the fourth set. Lakeland was able to take the set 26-24 and force a fifth and final set. In the 5th set, the Eagles were too much for the Rustles as they took the set 15-8 and the match 3-2.
Leading the way for the Rustlers was Kuse with 15 kills and 15 digs, while Sigurdson added 41 assists and 5 digs. The Rustlers also got strong play from third-year middle Brooklyn Boehm, who finished the match with 12 kills, 2 digs, 1 service ace, and 1 block.
The Rustlers now sit at 19-3 in the ACAC North Division with two games remaining in the regular season. Lakeland is heading into their bye weekend, giving them an extra week to prepare for the NAIT Ooks in their final games of the regular season. The Rustlers return to the court February 15th in Edmonton, before playing their final home game on February 16th at 6:00 pm.