(By University of Regina Sports Information)
REGINA, Sask. – The University of Regina's women's volleyball team won a thrilling five-set match over the top-ranked team in the nation on Friday night, coming from behind to defeat the Alberta Pandas on home court at the Centre for Kinesiology, Health & Sport.
The Cougars jumped out to an early lead in the match with a 25-20 win in the first set, but Alberta quickly replied with a 25-18 victory in the second and then hit .407 as a team in a third set which the visitors won by a 25-15 count.
The fourth set was a back-and-forth affair which featured no fewer than seven lead changes before the Cougars went on a big 6-0 run with Ashlee Sandiford serving to go up 24-20. Three of those points came off Sandiford aces, and the Cougars finally made good on their fourth attempt at set point when a kill by Jessica Lerminiaux gave Regina a 25-23 win and forced a fifth and deciding set.
In the final set, the Cougars jumped out to a quick 7-1 lead thanks to five straight points with Lerminiaux serving. Regina led by at least four points the rest of the way, and the Cougars finished off the upset with three consecutive points that all involved setter Satomi Togawa. First she combined with Kathleen Ens on a block to put the U of R up 13-8, then scored back-to-back service aces – one of which came when Alberta was called for being out of rotation – to finish off the match.
"On so many different levels, this win is a huge positive for us," Cougars head coach Melanie Sanford said. "We could have packed it in after we lost the second and the third, but we found a way to fight through it and regrouped in the fourth and got off to a real good start in the fifth and didn't let up."
Sanford lauded the play of Togawa, who finished with 39 assists and 10 digs for the Cougars.
"Sato's defensive skills are outstanding and I just can't say enough about her as a setter," Sanford said. "And so many people contributed tonight. Ashlee (Sandiford) had a great night, Taylor (Ungar) dug a lot of balls. You don't beat a team like Alberta with only one or two players going, you have to have everyone performing their role and playing as a team and that's what happened for us tonight."
Sandiford finished with 12 kills and 13 digs for the U of R's other double-double, while Diana Lumbala had 12 kills and nine digs while leading the Cougars with a .300 hitting percentage. Lerminiaux had a team-high 13 kills and added eight digs for the Cougars, while Ens led the U of R at the net with six blocks and also registered five kills and five digs.
Setter Eryn Orysiuk had 42 assists and 18 digs for Alberta, which drops to 2-1 with the loss after the Pandas opened their Canada West schedule last weekend with two wins over MacEwan. Erin Corbett (16 kills), Julia Zonneveld (13), and Kory White (12) led the Pandas offensively, while libero Janae Eisler had a match-leading 21 digs and also passed 21 serves without surrendering an ace. Vanessa Jarman added eight kills for Alberta while also leading all players with 10 blocks.
The two teams will meet again on Saturday night at the CKHS. First serve is set for 7:00.