Despite falling to the SAIT Trojans in 5 sets, the Ambrose Lions pushed the reigning ACAC champions to their limit on Saturday night. Ambrose Player of the Game was their setter and captain Ryan Andres, while rightside attacker Jarrett Noel was awarded POG for his team after putting up 30 kills over the course of the match.
The first set picked up where the teams had left off last night, as SAIT all but scored at will and cruised to a 25-18 victory. The final kill was a Jarrett Noel swing out of the right side, one of many to come, as the Lions block could not find a consistent way to stop the 2nd year Calgary native. Brodie Juul-Hansen, in the middle for the Lions, was matched up against Brennan Willis and held the seven-footer to only 3 kills on the night.
Ambrose turned the match around in the second set and kept the scores tight, as a couple of left-handed substitutions on the outside (Adam Morris and Mark Fountain) provided some much-needed offense for the Lions. It came down to the wire, as tough serving by Noel and Tyler Latu'ila brought the Trojans back and tied up the game at 22-22. Up 24-23, Andres gave the ball to Mark Fountain on the right side who thumped it home to even up the sets.
The Lions didn't stop there, as their high level of play combined with an uncharacteristically error-ridden set by the Trojans to take a quick third set 25-19. Ryan Andres ended the set with one of his 5 service aces of the night off of Trojans libero Andrew Birchall.
In the fourth set it was SAIT's turn to take advantage of their opponents' errors; down 7-9, the Lions suddenly found themselves unable to score, and a lengthy serving run from Trojans setter Nathan Goss allowed the visitors to absolutely steamroll the Lions to a 19-7 deficit. A tough serve from Noel led to a Lions hitting error at set point, and following the 12-25 finish the teams headed to the final set.
Right out of the gate the two teams went blow for blow, but down the stretch SAIT found the crucial points they needed to pull away. A 5-0 run would put the Trojans up by three at 12-9, and from there would take that 3-point lead to the end. Jarrett Noel notched his 30th kill of the night with the final swing of the match, going off the Ambrose block and out for the 15-12, 3-2 victory.
The Lions will play the Medicine Hat Rattlers next weekend, in the Lions Den on Friday and in the Snake Pit on Saturday. The women's games start at 6:00 pm with the men to follow.