On the night they honored their four graduating players, the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack fell 3-1 to the visiting University of British Columbia Okanagan Heat in Canada West women's volleyball. The scores were 25-19,25-27,25-18,25-19.
As a result, the Heat not only move into sole possession of fifth place but also claim the "President's Cup-Female", a competition between the two schools in USport/Canada West competition.
The Heat took advantage of some nerves on behalf of the WolfPack in the opening set. Both teams had difficulty serving as UBCO had 18 service errors to TRU's 12.
It was Senior's night. TRU honored Iullia Pakhomenko (5th year, outside hitter, Donetsk, Ukraine), Alina Sopizhuk (5th year, outside hitter, Donetsk,Ukraine), Morgan Kolasa (4th year, middle, Calgary, AB) and Julia Niemczewska (4th year, middle, Calgary, AB) before the match. All four are completing their academic programs this Spring. Kolasa has been at TRU for six years, Niemczewska for five. Both sat out years during their time here because of injuries. Pakhomenko has been at TRU for three years, Sopizhuk for two.
The Heat were led offensively by Siobhan Fitzpatrick (3rd year, outside hitter, Kelowna, BC) with 13 kills in 37 chances. Kaitlynn Given (5th year, outside hitter, Kelowna, BC) added 11 kills in 30 swings.
TRU's main offense came from Rachel Windhorst (3rd year, outside, Surrey, BC) who had 12 kills in 35 chances. Pakhomenko added nine kills in 26 opportunities.
Rachel Windhorst: 12 kills in 35 opportunities, 11 digs, 1 solo block
Iullia Pakhomenko: 9 kills in 36 swings, 12 digs, 2 block assists
Mikayla Fun: 8 kills in 23 chances, 1 service ace, 4 digs, 5 block assists
Abby Spratt: 28 assists, 2 service aces, 8 digs, 1 solo block
Morgan Kolasa: 6 kills in 13 chances, 1 assist, 2 block assists, 2 digs
Siobhan Fitzpatrick: 13 kills in 37 chances, 7 digs, 1 solo block, 1 block assist
Kaitlynn Given: 11 kills in 30 opportunities, 9 digs, 2 block assists
Megan Festival: 9 kills in 31 swings, 6 service aces, 15 digs, 2 block assists
Emily Oxland: 28 assists, 9 digs,
UBCO 13-8 TRU 12-9
TRU head coach Chad Grimm:
"In some senses this is a tough one to play. Knowing it's their last game at home but also knowing they have more matches ahead. We talked about the emotions they might or might not feel before the match and how to deal with that. We definitely came out nervous in the first set. You could tell from the service line. UBCO was like that too and it was a bit ugly on both sides. We cleaned it up a little bit but never fully found our rhythm tonight. Just too many runs against us to win."
Heat Coach Steve Manual:
"The difference in the match was our ability to continue to battle. We missed something ridiculous like 20 serves. We kept the WolfPack from getting momentum for any great amount of time. That aggressiveness from the service line. Those guys were blocking us like crazy. We missed a bunch of serves but kept on going. That made the difference in the end."
On winning Presidents Cup (Female):
"Obviously it's a matter of pride. I believe our President's know each other fairly well (they are actually married). It is a nice thing for them to have bragging rights around the household. For us, it is a matter of pride when we play. The fact the competition involves all the teams: it makes it a little more interesting. It's a matter of pride for us and playing 'playoff' ball. And they (TRU) are a playoff bound team as well."
On Iuliia Pakhomenko and her significance to University Women's Volleyball:
"One of a kind. We have not competed against anyone like her. She is very unique. Her amazing drive. Her physical talent. Her strength. Her competitiveness. She just raises the game and makes everyone else around her and across the net a lot better. Week in and week out, every time we play her. I can honestly say I am sad to see her graduating. I am not sorry we don't have to play against her. But I am sorry that she is graduating and won't be around. I have thoroughly enjoyed competing against her and the friendly stuff we have had between our two programs in preseason, during the season and at Christmas. From that standpoint, we will certainly miss her for sure."
WolfPack outside hitter, Julia Niemczewska
On what was going through her mind as the match ended:
"It just doesn't seem real that it is your last set on your home court. It is an emotional time. Although it didn't go our way, the girls were all together playing like at team for each other. We know this isn't the end and we have a lot of games ahead of us. But it seems surreal that this was our last one at home. We were nervous. We were playing easier teams the last few weekends and this match was tougher. The intensity was just different that what we have been used to. We have adjusted to it and will be ready on Saturday.
WolfPack outside hitter, Iullia Pakhomenko :
On her final home match:
" It was tough for me to focus on the game. Just to realize that it was going to be my last home game. It didn't hit me until I stepped on the court. I realized that it's my last opportunity to play before my friends and family."
TRU middle Morgan Kolasa:
"It was the same that it's been the last few matches. One of our issues has been our start. We got off to a rocky start and unfortunately UBCO is less forgiving than Manitoba and Winnipeg. It is something we need to work on moving forward."
WolfPack outside hitter, Alina Sopizhuk:
On her last home match:
"I was really sad. I really wanted to win even though I knew I wouldn't get a lot of playing time because of my injuries. I wanted to contribute. It was sad and exciting. I was excited to be around my team and see such a big crowd."
The WolfPack and Heat will wind up the series Saturday night (Feb 18) at "The Furnace" in Kelowna, BC.
TRU will close out their regular season the following weekend (Feb 24-25) in Saskatoon, SK against the University of Saskatchewan Huskies. The Heat will entertain MacEwan University Griffins that same weekend.
OF NOTE: The "TRU Bookstore/McDonalds Leader of the Pack Players of the Match" were: Pakhomenko, Sopizhuk, Kolasa and Niemczewska, the four graduating players.