Mustangs lose to Dinos in consolation semifinal

University of Calgary's 7’1 middle hitter Ivan Kartev (right) has been turning heads this weekend for his height. Dinos head coach Rod Durrant says the team plays better when Kartev blocks well: “If he takes up space, we can play defence around him.”
University of Calgary's 7’1 middle hitter Ivan Kartev (right) has been turning heads this weekend for his height. Dinos head coach Rod Durrant says the team plays better when Kartev blocks well: “If he takes up space, we can play defence around him.”
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Western Mustangs head coach Jim Sage said he saw it coming.

Less than 24 hours after losing a five-set heartbreaker to the Manitoba Bisons in a men’s volleyball national quarter-final, the Mustangs fell in straight sets to the Calgary Dinos in Saturday afternoon’s consolation semifinal.

“We were just flat,” Sage said. “After the emotional game yesterday, you could see in my team’s eyes that back-to-back games against tough teams was just too much.”

The Mustangs lost 25-14 and 25-22 before dropping the third set 25-6 — the only time this weekend a team has recorded under 10 points in a set. Sage said he’s disheartened to end the season in a blowout, especially after Friday’s close quarter-final loss.

“It puts a damper on the tournament,” he said. “There were so many people talking to me yesterday about the Manitoba game, there were so many positive things to take from it.

“Now I’ve got to talk to my team for the last time all year.”

The Mustangs were the best team in Ontario for most of the year, finishing first place in the OUA with a 16-2 record. But they ended their season with three straight losses — a five-set loss to Queen’s in the OUA final and two more at nationals this weekend.

Sage said he doesn’t want the late-season losing streak to take away from Western’s accomplishments.

“We won our league, we hosted [the OUA final four], we had a fifth set for an OUA championship, we played at the CIS tournament,” he said. “Hopefully we can take that home with us so that next year we return with more experience.”

Meanwhile, the Dinos rebounded from Friday’s four-set loss to the Laval Rouge et Or with a dominant performance on Saturday. Outside hitter and former CIS MVP Graham Vigrass posted nine kills while 7’1 middle hitter Ivan Kartev scored four kills and had nine partial blocks to earn Player of the Game.

“We played like we should have played [on Friday],” Kartev said. “[The Mustangs] were flat and didn’t pass very well.”

Kartev, who holds Bulgarian and French citizenship, has been turning heads at the ARC this weekend for his height. But Dinos head coach Rod Durrant said his player is used to it.

“He gets a lot of attention but he handles it in very maturely,” he said, adding that the Dinos play better when Kartev blocks well.

“If he takes up space, we can play defence around him,” Durrant said. “We need him to play at 7’1.”

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