By Paul Cartledge
December 2, 2012, EDMONTON (ISN) – For the second-straight game, the No.3 University of Alberta Pandas defeated the No.10 ranked team in straight sets (25-20, 25-21, 25-20), this time taking down the Mount Royal Cougars in the first-ever matchup between the two squads, Friday night at Saville Community Sports Centre.
Senior left side Krista Zubick spun 11 kills and one ace in Alberta’s seventh-straight win, six of them coming in straight sets. Fifth-year right side Alysssa Jones put up 10 kills and 14 assists for the now 9-2 Pandas while senior setter Jaki Ellis had a game-high 22 assists and added two more aces to her career total, now two shy of the Canada West record of 117.
The Cougars, who dropped to 8-3, had rookie left side Carolyn O’dwyer at the helm, netting 12 kills and 10 digs while fourth-year setter Mackenzie Allen notched 17 assists and third-year left side Fallon Middlemiss served a game-high four aces.
The two nationally ranked teams began with an expected tight score, a three-point spread being the highest difference early, but several attack errors by the visitors helped along an 8-1 run by Alberta, the home team earning a 23-14 lead.
Although Mount Royal countered with a late 6-1 run to cut the deficit to four, Jones put her fifth kill of the set off the Cougar block to take the 1-0 lead.
Momentum swings wrote the story in the middle set, Jones and O’dwyer fueling their teams’ respective runs, the rookie left side putting up six kills to keep Mount Royal as a threat to take the set but the Pandas earned two points off her attack errors late, including a long swing that went several feet beyond the base line to end the set.
Zubick took centre stage in the final set, the St. Albert, Alta. native spinning a half-dozen kills that either kept the home team close when the Cougars tried to pull away or cementing the eventual victory, throwing a close kill along the net for the 23-20 lead before senior middle Lia Stang swung a high volley and Jones put a power shot down the sideline, off Mount Royal libero Tayler Smith, for the win.