EDMONTON – Second-year outside Hilary Howe (Calgary) and fifth-year middle Katelyn Devaney (Port Coquitlam, B.C.) were the high definition of quality in Game 2 of the best-of-three quarter-final series between the Trinity Western University Spartans and the No.8 University of Alberta Pandas, the road team taking a four-set win (21-25, 25-15, 25-20, 25-16) to tie the series at one, Saturday afternoon at Saville Community Sports Centre.
Howe notched 18 kills, four aces, and two solo blocks for the victorious Spartans while Devaney tallied 11 kills, three aces, three solo blocks, and two block assists. Third-year setter Brie O’Reilly (King) (Langley, B.C.) recorded 48 assists.
Sophomore right side Kory White netted 20 kills, one ace, and one block assist in the loss as senior setter Eryn Orysiuk put up 39 assists and three aces.
Leading the team in kills during the regular season, Howe got the first five kills for Trinity Western to fuel an 11-3 run to open the match, but like the first set in game one on Friday, the Pandas responded with a streak of their own.
A 10-2 run put the Pandas down by only one point, tying it at 20-20 when third-year outside hitter Micaylee Pucilowski (Kelowna, B.C.) sent an attack beyond the far left corner.
A late 7-1 streak by Alberta completed the first-set comeback when a Spartan net violation cemented the 1-0 set lead.
Though the Pandas got the first three points in the second set, a myriad of Alberta attack errors propelled the visitors to a 13-2 stretch while Howe also netted a block and two aces over the span.
The Calgary native got her 10th kill of the match off the home team’s Erin Corbett in the back row before fourth-year outside hitter Ashtyn McKenzie put a strike through defenders and into the back court, Corbett getting blocked by McKenzie and third-year middle Kriston Anton (Prince George, B.C.) to tie the set score at 1-1.
Alberta got an early 6-1 lead in the third set but the Spartans eventually tied things up at 11, Howe and White battling on the stat sheet with seven kills apiece but Devaney then took center stage at the turning point of the set.
The squads tied at 17-17, Devaney’s ace landed just inside the back line to give Trinity Western their first lead of the set as the Spartans scored seven of the next 10 points, including set point on a McKenzie-O’Reilly block, for the 2-1 set lead.
In the final set, Devaney spearheaded an 11-3 start for the road team, netting five kills and two solo blocks to threaten a third and final game in the quarter-final series.
Hoping to extend the series to five sets and end the series earlier, the Pandas put together a 7-2 run to cut the deficit down to four at 15-11, but Devaney kept sending up kills while Howe added aces from the service line, fourth-year outside Ashytyn McKenzie (Vernon, B.C.) chipping in with a kill after a Devaney solo block to set up set point.
Anton and Pucilowski doubled up on White at the net to send the ball down to the Alberta court and set up a Sunday winner-take-all matchup.
Trinity Western head coach Ryan Hofer
“I was very pleased with the way we competed tonight and ran a really balanced offence. We hit over .300 and that is a result of an all-around team effort. Rachel did a great passing the ball and Brie did a really good job of distributing the ball to our attackers. And our players who came off of the bench did a fantastic job managing their rolls and contributing.”
“Tomorrow is going to be a battle. Alberta is going to play better and we are going to play better. It will be a good match.”