EDMONTON – The No.1 ranked University of Alberta Pandas volleyball team completed the sweep of the second ranked team in Canadian Interuniversity Sport, the Trinity Western Spartans, with a straight sets (25-10, 25-20, 25-23) victory on Saturday night at the Saville Community Sport Centre.
Alberta improves to 5-1 on the season while the No.2 Spartans fall to 3-3.
The Pandas were the dominant team from the get-go, as they won the opening set 25-10, but had to hold off a resilient Spartans team in the third set. The home side also owned the visitors from the service line, as Alberta banked eight aces on the night, including three from Kacey Otto, while TWU finished with just one ace. The Evergreen and Gold were also sharper on offence, committing just 12 attack errors, while TWU committed 28 attacking sins to finish with a team attack percentage of .028. Alberta finished with a .217 attack percentage on the night, while the teams were nearly identical in kills, digs and blocks.
The Spartans were led by Sophie Carpentier (Ottawa), who had a match-high 13 kills. Royal Richardson (Rocky Mountain House, Alta.) added nine kills while Katelyn Devaney (Port Coquitlam, B.C.) had a team-high four blocks.
“Alberta played great volleyball and I’m disappointed we didn’t rise to the occasion,” said Spartans coach Ryan Hofer. “It’s a tough couple of losses this weekend and I’m hoping that they set the standard for what we have to reach for and where we need to get. They exposed a lot of things that we need to work on, but we’re going to lick our wounds and we’re going to get better and get stronger.”
Meg Casault powered Alberta’s attack, finishing with a team high 12 kills, while fifth-year middle Dione Lang earned 10.
The pair combined for seven kills in the first set, including four from Casault, as the Pandas pounced all over Trinity Western in the first set, winning 25-10. Carpentier, however, was a beacon of light for TWU, as she recorded a pair of kills in the first set, half of her team’s kills.
The match got a little tighter in the second set, but Lang and Casault continued to pepper the Spartans, and the visitors haunted themselves by committing 10 attack errors. Alberta was able to pick up the 25-20 set win, and the 2-0 match lead.
The third set was an absolute roller-coaster. The Pandas raced out to a commanding 11-2 lead in the early going, and looked to have the match wrapped up, but slowly TWU clawed its way back into the set. Point by point the Spartans worked themselves back into the game, and what looked like a sure thing for the Pandas, was suddenly threatening to go to extended sets.
Struggling on the attack, and against a suddenly vibrant Spartan blocking game, the Pandas found themselves facing a 24-23 situation, as TWU climbed out of a nine-point hole, and outscored Alberta 21-13 through the middle part of the set. But Alberta, as it has shown a couple of times this year, found a way to hit the match winner, as Otto blistered a ball through the block and into the open floor for the win.
Alberta will return to action next weekend when they travel to Calgary to take on the Dinos, while Trinity Western hosts the defending CIS champion Manitoba Bisons next weekend in Langley.