By Paul Cartledge
EDMONTON – The young players had the right stuff, sophomores Kory White and Vanessa Jarman, as well as rookie Julia Zonneveld, leading the way for the No.2 University of Alberta Pandas in blocks and kills so that, step by step, the home team earned a straight-sets victory (25-17, 25-22, 25-20) over the University of Manitoba Bisons, Friday night at Saville Community Sports Centre.
Joining the Pandas from Seattle University, White recorded a game-high 16 kills while Jarman notched nine kills as well as a game-high five block assists and Zonneveld tallied nine kills along with three block assists. Fourth-year middle Shauntelle Hogg added eight kills, two solo blocks, and four block assists while senior setter Eryn Orysiuk had a game-high 45 assists.
Second-year right side Kearley Abbott earned a team-high nine kills for the Bisons with fourth-year middle Emily Erickson putting up eight, fifth-year setter Brittany Habing scoring 31 assists.
The Pandas broke an early 4-4 tie in the opening set with a 5-0 run, building off the short burst as the teams went point-for-point while Jarman and White netted four kills apiece, the former putting her last off the block and beyond the service line to set up set point that Jarman and Orysiuk earned off a shared block for the 1-0 set lead.
The two squads fought back and forth in the middle set, neither team earning a large lead until the Bisons grabbed a 17-13 lead, only to have the Pandas erase it immediately on the strength of three Hogg kills.
The relatively young Pandas were superb on defence in the second set, leading a team total of six blocks in the frame, Zonneveld and Jarman combining on a block that found the Bison side of the floor before each of them found court with kills to double their respective kill totals in the match and also end the set.
White, the team leader in kills, enhanced the precocious Panda presence with four kills in a 12-4 run that broke a close set and had the Pandas up 16-10 at the technical timeout.
The Bisons fought back to get within one but White fired two more kills in retaliation and after Jarman put one off the back row to make the score 24-20, veterans Hogg and Orysiuk finished off the visitors with a big block off a kill attempt by Abbott.
Alberta improves to 4-1 on the season while Manitoba loses their fourth straight to fall to 1-4. Both teams meet up again in game two of the weekend series on Saturday, game start at 6:30 p.m. MT.