Pandas sew up another win to extend streak to 18

Pandas sew up another win to extend streak to 18

Paul Cartledge - Golden Bears and Pandas Athletics

EDMONTON – Spinning a game-high 15 kills, senior outside hitter Meg Casault tailored another great performance as she closes in on the Canada West all-time career kill record, leading the No.1 University of Alberta Pandas to a second consecutive straight-sets win (25-20, 25-23, 25-20) over the Mount Royal University Cougars, Friday night at Saville Community Sports Centre.

The Edmonton native now has 1,241 career kills in conference play, needing only 14 more to break the record of Tawana McLeod (née Wardlaw), who earned a total of 1,254 when she played for Alberta from 2000-06.

After hitting 1,000 career conference digs on match point on Friday, senior outside hitter Kacey Otto added 10 more on Saturday night to go with eight kills, two aces, one solo block, and one block assist. Rookie middle Vanessa Jarman also recorded eight kills, an ace, and two solo blocks while fourth-year setter Mariah Walsh had a match-high 36 assists.

Third-year outside hitter Taylor Pelland led the Cougars with nine kills while adding two aces, senior middle Kylie Willis chipping in with eight kills while third-year setter Amy Gordon had 31 assists. The loss drops Mount Royal to 7-11 on the season, now six points back of sixth-place Thompson Rivers in the Canada West standings.

The Cougars jumped out to an early 4-1 lead, courtesy of a couple of aces from senior middle Julia Kryzan, but the Pandas worked their way back to tying the score on two straight aces by Otto, who continues to add to her Canada West-leading career conference total, now sitting at 165.

Alberta used that momentum to build an 8-2 run, which then led to Casault scoring five straight kills for the home team before she handed off the reins to Otto who powered a monstrous kill into the Mount Royal court that eventually led to a 1-0 set lead.

Momentum swings told the story of the second set, the Pandas going up 6-1 and 9-3 before the Cougars stormed back with 8-2 and 6-1 runs to claim the lead at 19-17.

Three consecutive attack attempts going awry for Mount Royal, combined with a Jessica Hoskins ace, tied things at 23 before team captain Otto stepped up again.

The Calgary native and third-year middle Shauny Hogg combined for a big block to put Alberta up by one and then Otto placed a perfect kill to the Cougar center court for an intimidating 2-0 set lead.

The final set continued the momentum swings, both squads scoring three or four-point streaks, but the one-two punch of Casault and Otto broke a 15-15 tie, starting a 8-4 run with a kill apiece before Casault finished it with a kill off the block and out to the right to put the Pandas up by a 23-19 score.

After Hogg and Gordon split errors from the service line, freshman Jarman found some Mount Royal court just inside the right sideline to extend Alberta's streak to a stellar 18 games.

Otto's conference-leading total of 165 career conference aces will face off against Emily Oxland and Megan Festival next weekend, the two UBC Okanagan Heat athletes coming in second (153) and third (150), respectively.  The Mount Royal Cougars return home to host the Brandon Bobcats on Feb. 10-11.