By Eric Licis, November 6 2014 —
The Dinos women’s volleyball team showed their resiliency as they clawed out a victory over the No. 1 ranked University of Alberta Pandas in a five-set marathon (25–18, 25–27, 19–25, 25–21, 15–9).
The Dinos showed they were prepared right from the start. Second-year right side Janna Ogle killed two straight balls giving the Dinos an early lead. The Pandas, facing strong offence, answered with a competent defensive game, forcing long rallies with well-timed digs of the ball. The Dinos had trouble holding the lead, but they won the set with early performances by Ogle and outside hitter Kate Pexman.
“You want to come in confident, even against a team like Alberta,” said Dinos head coach Natalie Gurnsey. “They’re top ranked for a reason, but I feel the girls prepared well and were ready for this match.”
The Dinos’ Achilles heel was their inability to keep the lead.
“That was something that we struggled with. We weren’t able to get into our game plan against the Pandas tonight, but that’s expected when you’re playing a team like this,” Gurnsey said.
Calgary were unable to stay ahead for the next few sets. The second set saw the Dinos gain the lead, but they failed to maintain offensive pressure. A siege of serves from the Pandas exposed weaknesses in the Dinos’ defensive structure. Pexman provided a lot of the offence in return, tying up the score with a handful of kills.
Ultimately, the Pandas stifled the Dinos comeback attempt in the second set, beating them 27–25.
The third set was more of the same as the Pandas disrupted the Dinos’ rhythm. The Dinos’ passing showed flaws in the third set with miscues that led to points for the Pandas. The Dinos gave up another lead as the Pandas continued to dominate most of the set.
But in the fourth set the Dinos found their game.
The momentum shifted in their favour after timely blocks by setter Jordhynn Guy and Jaylynn Moffatt. The Pandas’ Meg Casault continued her assault, finishing the match with an impressive 23 kills and 14 digs. The Dinos countered with first-year Beth Vinnell and second-year Briana Solberg, whose chemistry extinguished Casault and the Pandas’ attack.
The addition of Vinnell was helpful for the Dinos. She accumulated nine kills, one of which ended a tie in the fourth set.
The Dinos started the fifth and deciding set by jumping out to another early lead. This time they held on, beating their provincial rivals 15–9.
“This type of win is big for raising our confidence going on with the rest of the season,” Gurnsey said. “Beating Alberta this way was fun but we need to understand the struggles we had tonight and grow from it. We’re going to take this win and use it as a standard for the rest of the season.”
The Dinos now sit fourth in the Canada West division. They head to Saskatchewan next where they will play the Huskies in back-to-back games on Nov. 7 and 8.