Game recap by: Kirk Jessome
(Halifax, NS) – In the first match of a back to back set this weekend, the Dalhousie Tigers hosted the Sherbrooke Vert et Or at the Dalplex. After taking a quick 2-0 lead in the match, the Tigers lost their rhythm for a moment, but were able to hang on to take the 3-1 win.
It was a tale of two halves in the first set, with the teams trading kills early.
The Tigers started strong with Jeffrey Walton (Sudbury, ON) and Graham Schmuland (Calgary, AB) picking up kills, and then Schmuland getting in on a big block to pull ahead early. On the other side, Laurent Duval-Demers (Candiac, QC) led the attack for the Vert et Or.
Walton continued to be aggressive on the attack, picking up 5 kills and an ace before the technical break, at which point the Tigers held a 16-12 advantage.
Out of the break, it was a turn of the tide, as the Tigers gave up just one point to the Vert et Or in the rest of the set and Kobe Shannon (Halifax, NS) took over the Tigers attack. With some stellar defensive play, and 5 kills, plus a block from Shannon, the Tigers were able to come away with a 25-13 win in the opening set.
The Tigers were able to force errors from the Vert et Or early in the second set to jump out to a quick lead, highlighted by a few big kills from Jasper Kristmanson (Fredericton, NB).
The Vert et Or were able to battle back with a run of their own however, with Raphael Viens (St-Alphonse-de-Granby, QC) sending home a few nice kills, followed by Mark Messier (Laval, QC) getting in on back to back blocks to swing the momentum back in their favour.
The Tigers were able to regroup in the set, and went on a lengthy 9-point run through the technical timeout and take another commanding lead in the set by forcing errors from the Vert et Or hitters.
With a few errors coming from the Tigers at the end of the set, the Vert et Or tried to climb their way back in it, but the lead was too much in the second set, as Jeffrey Walton hammered home the final kill and the Tigers took a 25-17 win to take back to back sets.
This time it was the Vert et Or who got out to a hot start in a win or go home third set. After giving up four points early, the Vert et Or settled in and Olivier Coté set up Jean-Philippe Talbot (Granby, QC) and Samuel Beaudoin to be active at the net.
Continuing their impressive run, Viens sent home another kill as the Vert et Or held the lead at the technical break, up 16-12.
The Tigers were able to chip away at the lead in the back half of the set, with Shannon leading their attack, but the Vert et Or were able to survive in the set, with Beaudoin's serve let through by the back line of the Tigers, and stayed in to give them the 25-22 win. The win forced a fourth set.
The momentum continued to work in the favour of the Vert et Or to start the fourth set, with Laurent-Pierre Couture picking up back to back aces at the start of the set and Sherbrooke jumped out 4-0 quickly.
The set remained tight, with the teams trading kills from Talbot and Messier of the Vert et Or, and Walton and Schmuland for the Tigers. The Vert et Or were able to hang on to a slight advantage at the technical break, leading 16-14.
Continuing to battle back and forth, the Vert et Or maintained their advantage late in the set, but the Tigers fought to stay in the set with Schmuland sending home two huge kills to stay alive. The Tigers were against set-point twice in the set, but each time they were able to battle back and took their first lead of the set in extra points at 26-25.
On match point, the Tigers had a few big blocks on the play, and after receiving the free ball, Malachy Shannon (Halifax, NS) set up Walton for his biggest kill of the evening and the Tigers were able to come all the way back in the set to secure the 3-1 victory.
Talbot led the way for the Vert et Or in this one, finishing with 13 kills and 8 digs on the match, while Jeffrey Walton stood out once again for the Tigers with his match-high 16 kills.
The two teams will be back on the court tomorrow for the second game of the back to back.