The AUS champion Dalhousie Tigers will head back to Halifax with two U SPORTS championship victories after topping the Western Mustangs 3-0 (25-22, 25-20, 26-24) on Sunday morning at the Mattamy Athletic Centre in the fifth-place match.
Mieke DuMont recorded a team-high 15 points, tallying 12 kills, 2.0 blocks and an ace for the Tigers, while teammate Anna Dunn-Suen grabbed 13.5 points, including 11 kills for Dalhousie, who after falling in their quarter-final match to Montreal finished the weekend with two-straight victories.
“After we lost our first game, obviously we were disappointed,” said Tigers coach Rick Scott, who was named the U SPORTS coach of the year. “We regrouped and wanted to win our last two games. Fifth place in the country is very respectable. We were proud of how the girls fought and played and stuck together, so very pleased with our win today over a very good Western team.”
“I think early on the serve-receive from (Western) were a little better than us. Than I thought we got going with our serve, and put them under pressure, took them out of system. And I thought we just got more comfortable as the game went on, it was really a balanced attack for us, and every one made a difference. We were a little better down the stretch.”
Western was led by a 15-kill performance from Kelsey Veltman, who added two aces and four digs for the OUA silver-medalists.
“Wasn’t our best performance, and we had a bit of fatigue,” said Western coach Melissa Bartlett. “We didn’t finish playing our best, but as a team overall we elevated our performance physically and mentally over the playoffs so we have a lot to be proud of there. I take for granted how successful our year was. There were so many firsts this year for our team. Making it to the OUA final, being ranked in the top ten, making it to the national championships. Some great milestones achieved.”
Playing in their final post-secondary match, childhood friends Marisa Mota of Dalhousie and Candice Scott of Western described the experience of playing against each other to end their varsity careers.
“Candice and I started playing soccer together when we were in grade 3,” said Mota, a Second-Team all-Canadian. “We played club together, and were fierce competitors together in high school, played each other in the OFSSA finals in our grade 12 year. Today’s game was just a nice closing to club, high school, everything.”
“Thought I’d get ya in university cause you always got me in high school,” said Scott to Mota. “I said I’ve never beat (Marisa) so let’s get it done. I can’t look at (Marisa) when we’re losing,” said Scott with a laugh. But it was pretty cool.”
“The win against Toronto was the sweetest win of my life,” said Scott of Western’s victory over the Varsity Blues last weekend, which clinched the Mustang’s berth in the national championship. “It’s super sad to be done… but I’m super proud of our team, we had an amazing year.”
“AUS we won which is awesome to do that five times,” Said Mota. “The girls played awesome. Our time at the U SPORT tournament, it obviously didn’t have the results we wanted, but we won the last two of our games, so that’s great. Finished the season on a high note.”
The Mustangs took an early 4-1 lead in the opening set, but the Tigers battled to even the score before taking their first lead of the game at 9-8. Western would grab four of the next six points, however, and a howitzer by Veltman (Brampton, Ont.) from the service line gave the Mustangs a 15-11 lead at the technical.
A pair of kills each by Courtney Baker (Bridgewater, N.S.) and Dunn-Suen (Halifax, N.S.) sparked a 5-0 run to help the Tigers even the set, and two more from DuMont (Kamloops, B.C.) helped the Tigers earn a set point. Dunn-Suen’s ensuing attack went off the Western block, giving Dalhousie the first set of the match.
The Mustangs responded by taking seven of the first 10 points in the second to once again grab an early lead, prompting a timeout from Scott. Another booming serve by Veltman pushed the lead to seven, forcing the Tigers to take their final timeout of the set quite early in the stanza.
The strategy seemed to work, as consecutive put-backs by Baker capped off a 6-1 streak that brought Dalhousie within a pair, and the moved in front by one at the technical break. After going up by four, the Tigers committed back-to-back errors, and a kill from Scott (Kitchener, Ont.) cut the lead to one.
After a back-court attack by Veltman found the net, Dunn-Suen tallied an ace to spread the lead back to three. A rejection by DuMont propelled the Tigers to a two-set lead.
For the third time in a row, Mustangs took an early lead, going up by a pair before two Dalhousie blocks sandwiched a DuMont kill to give the Atlantic representatives a 10-8 lead. The teams went into the technical separated by just a point after a kill by Aja Gyimah (Scarborough, Ont.) capped a 4-1 Western streak.
An ace by Emma Ciprick tied the match, and the Binscarth, Man. native followed that with a rolling shot that found the deep corner to put the Tigers back in front. After another Dalhousie block, Ciprick’s next serve handcuffed the Mustangs to move the spread up to 23-19.
Western fought back for four-straight to even the game, and an error by the Tigers brought up set point. Dalhousie saved the set, and Dunn-Suen earned match-point for her team with a hard cross-court strike. Lauren Koskowich (Calgary, Alta.) would put away a long serve-receive to end the match.