(FREDERICTON, NB) Just like match two, the Subway AUS men's volleyball championship series is going the distance.
The Dalhousie Tigers forced a third and deciding match with a five-set win over the UNB Varsity Reds, Saturday afternoon.
The Tigers won 3-2, by scores of 18-25, 25-21, 25-17, 23-25 and 15-9.
"What a game. Ups and downs, that was crazy," said Dal's Jonathan MacDonald. "It was fun. That first set, they (got) us good, and for us to battle back, it says a lot about our group."
MacDonald had 4 digs and 45 assists. He was named the Tigers' Subway player of the game.
Matthew Donovan led Dalhousie with 19 kills and 10 digs. Adam Sandeson had a match-high 21 digs for Dal.
In a see-saw first set, the Tigers built a 12-8 lead before UNB went on a 9-0 run to lead 17-12.
The Tigers would never get closer than five points, and the Varsity Reds went on to take the opening set 25-18.
"I thought we were just okay, even in the first set," said Varsity Reds head coach Dan McMorran. "I thought Dal made a few errors that allowed us to get some separation in the first set, and I think we thought the match may have been going to be an easy one after that."
Both sides traded points, for the most part, through the early stages of the second set.
Dal led 16-12 at the technical time-out, on route to a 25-21 win to even the match.
That ended UNB's run of ten consecutive set wins over Dal.
The Tigers carried that momentum through the second, winning 25-17.
UNB rallied in the fourth, building leads of 6-3, 14-10 and 18-15.
A Pascal McCarthy kill sealed a 25-23 win, evened the match, and forced a deciding set.
There was a back-and-forth in the fifth set, until Dal went ahead by three, at 11-8.
UNB rallied to 12-9, but wouldn't score again. The Tigers won the fifth set 15-9.
"From 8 on, we didn't serve tough and we didn't pass," said Coach McMorran.
"Every game that you lose in the fifth is kind of disappointing," said the Varsity Reds' Tristen Burridge.
He was UNB's Subway player of the game, recording a team-high 20 digs. He added 13 kills.
"We have another game to play, but it's pretty sour in my mouth right now. We pushed so hard in the fourth, and most of the fifth, and just couldn't get it done."
Eivind Andersen had 18 kills and 13 digs for UNB. Patrick Surette added 15 digs, and Pascal McCarthy hit 14 kills.
Disappointed with the loss, Burridge said UNB's focus had already turned. "It's zero-zero now, it's a one game playoff."
Dal's Jonathan MacDonald echoed that sentiment. "These two games, they mean nothing now. It's all going to come down to one. Every game before that is done. It's the best three out of five sets and we'll see what happens."
The third and deciding match will be played on Friday, March 4th, in Halifax.
The winner will represent the AUS at the CIS men's volleyball championship tournament, at McMaster University, in Hamilton, Ontario.