Justin McCaffrey, Mount Royal Sports Information
CALGARY – The Mount Royal Cougars won their first game of the season in dramatic fashion on Friday night at Kenyon court, defeating the Manitoba Bisons 3-2 (18-25, 25-15, 25-27, 25-22, 15-11).
The Cougars had some jitters early on during their home opener in front of friends and family. Manitoba ran out to a 7-3 lead to start the match. Mount Royal kept the deficit manageable but unforced errors began to mount. At 24-18, Tori Studler hammered the ball cross-court to seal the Bisons' first set victory.
Mount Royal fell behind again in the second set, trailing 7-4. The Cougars then put together a 7-1 run, forcing the Bisons to take a timeout. The Cougars extended the lead and never looked back. Amy Gordon was on serve for seven straight points at the end of the set to get it to 24-13. Three points later, Kylie Willis put the game away with the kill.
The Bisons jumped all over the Cougars to start the third set. Before long Mount Royal found themselves down 9-4. An attack error from Josie Abbott got Mount Royal back on serve. Mount Royal rallied going on a 9-4 run of their own to tie the match at 13. The Cougars ran ahead making it 22-20 before subbing in Cassidy Kitchen to serve. The Cougars looked to have the set firmly in hand but the Bisons scored seven of the next eight points to steal the set from Mount Royal.
Needing a better start in the fourth set, the Cougars managed to keep it close early on at 9-9. Manitoba put some distance between the two teams going up 13-9. Mount Royal tried to close the gap but it seemed insurmountable. Trailing 21-17, the Cougars went on a tear. Nicky Zalasky was out of her mind on serve, winning the final seven points to give Mount Royal the unthinkable, come from behind, 25-22 set victory.
The match came down to a fifth and deciding set. This time Mount Royal ran out to an early 3-1 lead. Their lead evaporated quickly as the Bisons tied it 5-5. The Cougars took a slight 8-7 lead into the switch. Cassidy Kitchen and Kylie Willis traded kills to extend the Cougars' lead. After a beautiful kill by Taylor Pelland to make it 14-11 for Mount Royal, the Bisons hit it long and the Cougars took the set 15-11.
The Cougars improve to 1-0 on the season. The Bisons drop to 0-1.
The second match of this weekend set will go tomorrow afternoon at 4pm MST on Kenyon Court.