(FREDERICTON, NB) The timing couldn't be better.
"That feels great. It's a good confidence booster going into the AUS playoffs."
Cody Timmons smiled as he spoke, in the moments after the UNB Varsity Reds beat the Dalhousie Tigers 3-1.
UNB dropped the first set 21-25, but rallied to win the final three 25-20, 25-21 and 25-22.
Timmons says the game turned on a momentary lapse in the second set that the team recognized. "The boys got a couple of good blocks, started serving aggressively and the intensity just carried on throughout the rest of the game."
The win evened UNB's record at 8-and-8, while Dal falls to 9-and-6.
"It's one of the more complete matches that we've had," said Varsity Reds head coach Dan McMorran. "I thought our guys came out with a bit of a playoff demeanor tonight."
The opening set was close, until service and attack errors combined to help the Tigers run out to a 16-11 lead.
The VReds would rally, coming as close as 21-19, but Dal pushed through, taking the opener 25-21.
The two sides, for the most part, traded points until midway through set number two.
Tristen Burridge forced a ball handling error to give UNB an 18-15 lead.
Later, a Pascal McCarthy service ace would extend that lead to 24-19.
UNB took the second set 25-20.
The third set was just as close, with ties of 10-10, 11-11, 13-13 and 14-14, before UNB began to pull away.
Burridge was a factor again, his big kill capped UNB's 25-21 win.
"He's a guy that nobody realizes was on the floor," said Coach McMorran. "But he registered 11 kills and hit .474, which is exceptional for an outside hitter and nobody really notices that Tristen is out there."
The hosts never trailed in the fourth set.
Matthew Losier served four straight points early, as UNB jumped out to an 8-4 lead. He added three more points late, pushing the lead to 18-14.
Losier served out the set and the game… as UNB won 25-22.
The loss was the first to AUS competition this season for the Tigers.
"We certainly can play better than that," said Dal head coach Dan Ota. "But credit to UNB. They're a motivated group and they haven't beaten us in a while, and it's in their gym, so I know it's important for them to send a message."
And send a message the Varsity Reds did.
Coach McMorran says that was part of what the team wanted to do.
"This weekend has to be about sending messages and our schedule lines up so that we face them at the very end… and we look at this as the best of seven, to start the AUS championship."
The Tigers and Varsity Reds face each other again, on Saturday, at 1:00PM.
The two teams will also meet in the AUS championship series, later this month.