Pankratz powerful in five set thriller over SAIT
By Justin Steenhof
Briercrest Clippers (13-2) vs. Sait Trojans (13-2)
Saturday January 26, 2013 Briercrest looked to avenge their first home loss of the season against the heavy rivals the Trojan. Briercrest would do just that in an exciting three sets to two hard hitting victory (25-17, 24-26, 25-15, 22-25, 15-13).
Both teams came out strong in the first set earning points off kills as the score remained tied early on. A huge kill by Steve Guenther caused an already rambunctious crowed to erupt, however SAIT answered back with some stellar blocking. Both offenses continued to click on all cylinders as neither team could get consistent blocking. Kyle Pankratz continued in the theme of the match by providing four kills of his own each one more spectacular than the last. Pankratz punctuated the series of kills with a massive block resulting in a Trojan timeout with the score 14-10.
While the Trojans had finally found their blocking game and used it to climb back in the game they just had no answer for Pankratz or Guenther who just continued to roll. Briercrest used the support of the hometown crowd to continue their momentum as Pankratz continued to be an unstoppable force on the offensive end. The Briercrest surge continued as they closed out the set 25-17 on another Pankratz kill to take a one to nothing set lead.
The Trojans started the second set strong as they took the early six point lead as they looked to rebound from a first set loss. However, Briercrest responded well behind the strong blocking of Scott Willms and serving of Josh Wendel as they fought back into the set. The Trojans though would not give up their lead easily and used their strong offensive game to maintain it. Wendel and Pankratz continued to dominate as they did their best to draw the Clippers even. However the SAIT lead would prevail late into the set as Briercrest called a timeout with the score 18-14.
While the Trojans were holding on to the lead Briercrest continued to rely on Pankratz to provide offense and he along with Wendel continued to dominate the game bringing Briercrest to tie the set at 24’s apiece. The Trojans though would finally be able to pull out the narrow victory 26-24 and tie the match at one set apiece
Again the two teams started the third set strong as both of their offensive games continued to click on all cylinders. The fast paced hard hitting volleyball continued as Briercrest took the slim lead as neither team it seemed could get there blockers going. A huge save by Michael Harrison led to a massive kill by Cody Quiring which was followed by a crucial block by Harrison again. Strong serving by Josh Senneker would force a SAIT timeout with the score 12-8
Out of the timeout Pankratz continued to dominate the offensive side of the game by providing yet another kill. All the momentum seemed to be in favor of Briercrest as Quiring scored off of an easy bump over the net and then Wendel killed a misplaced pass. A Willms and Carter Reimer block pushed the Clipper lead to eight and resulted in a Trojan timeout with the score 22-14. Briercrest closed out the set quickly winning 25-15 and taking a two to one set lead.
Once again the two teams would come out providing the hard hitting volleyball that that had defined the match so far. SAIT though would add a new spin on things as they would rely on serving to force Briercrest into a timeout with the score 10-5.
The two teams would again fall back into the pattern of trading points back and forth with SAIT managing to hold onto their slight lead. However thanks to some lucky bounces and well placed blocks Briercrest fought back into the game as they cut the lead to two. Guenther would continue the push with a huge kill of his own but again the Trojans would respond with blocking to regain the slim three point lead. While the Trojans pushed to finish the set Pankratz was making their job very difficult as he continued to dominate the game but the Clippers could just not cut the lead down to less than three. The Trojans would finish out the third set with a score of 25-22 tying the match at two games to two.
The two teams would come out flying in the fifth set as each team looked to its offense early on to carry them. Pankratz would continue to absolutely dominate the game as he added more to an already impressive offensive game. With the score tied late into the set each team continued to rely on their firepower to score points and every time Briercrest went to Pankratz he would have an answer. While Pankratz and the Clippers continued to roll the Trojans made two errors resulting in the first substantial lead of the fifth set and a SAIT timeout.
A massive stuff block by Wendel would close out the fifth and final set giving Briercrest the victory 15-13 and the 3-2 (25-17, 24-26, 25-15, 22-25, 15-13) win.
SAIT Trojans player of the game: # 4 Darcee Froese five digs, one block, three aces and 23 kills
Briercrest Clipper player of the game: # 12 Kyle Pankratz six digs, two blocks, one ace and a game high 27 kills
Other Briercrest stat leaders were Steve Guenther with a game high four service aces, Pablo Acuna with 10 digs and Carter Reimer, Scott Willms and Kyle Pankratz all with a game high two blocks.
Briercrest led the game in kills, aces and blocks with 58, nine and 10 to SAIT’s 50, five and seven, while SAIT held a 45 to 40 edge in digs.
Briercrest’s next game is in Red Deer against Red Deer College Feb. 1-2. Be sure to follow online at SportsCanada.tv or like Briercrest Volleyball on Facebook.