Kayla Kievits, Cougars Athletics
CALGARY – It's home opening weekend for the Mount Royal Cougars women's volleyball team. The Cougars took on the Manitoba Bisons in their first match of the year. After a slow start losing the first set the Cougars came back fighting winning the match in four sets. The final scores were 22-25, 25-21, 25-23 and 25-23.
The Booster Juice players of the game were Bisons Laura Hill, and Cougars Carly Davies. Hill led the Bisons in attacks with a total of 11, and Cougars leader with 18 was Chantel Park, followed closely by Davies with 15. Bisons led in serve percentage with 0.978 compared to Cougars 0.875. Other notable players include Cougars Anna Carlson leading the team in blocks with a total of four. The Cougars also showed a strong presence in the front row with a total of 11.5 team blocks.
The Cougars were off to a strong start quickly gaining a three-point lead over the Bisons 8-5. It didn't take long for the Bisons to step up, forcing the Cougars to call the first timeout of the set as they fell behind 10-13. Cougars Carly Davies regained the serve for her team with a right side attack following the timeout. The teams played back and forth point-for-point, each determined not to let the ball hit the ground. The Cougars were the first to 16 points with a score of 16-15 at the first technical timeout of the match. Cougars Anna Carlson served their only ace helping the Cougars maintain their two-point lead 18-16. The second half of the set remained close, both teams calling a timeout in order to recompose. When a triple block from the Cougars bounced out it was a tie game at 22. Ultimately it was the Bisons who had the final push of the set taking the win 25-22.
With a win under their belts, the Bisons started the second set ready to fight. The Cougars were tenacious and fought for every point remaining within a point or two of the Bisons for the first half of the set. Both teams were strong at the net getting a hand on most attacks. The Bisons led 16-14 at the technical timeout. The Cougars found their fire the last few points of the set. With Cougars Chantel Park serving consistently it gave her team the chance to attack, the Cougars led the sets in attacks with 26 over the Bisons 18. The Cougars quickly took the lead and the Bisons called a timeout when they fell behind 20-23. The Cougars could taste the win and came out with a victory 25-21.
Going into the third set the teams were tied with one set each. Cougars kept their energy from the previous set and were off to an early lead 4-1. The Bisons quickly fought back making the score even at 8. Cougars Davies helped to regain the lead with a huge single block followed by a kill from the right side putting Cougars up by two, 11-9. With a strong presence in the front row from Bisons Laura Findlay they closed the gap only down by one at the technical timeout 15-16. The Cougars were the first to call a timeout in the third set when Manitoba took the lead 19-17. A tip from Cougars Nicky Zalasky regained them the serve. The Bisons down one point 20-21 called the second timeout of the set. The timeout did not work in their favour with a huge double block from the Cougars earning them the point. With one final attempt to close the gap the Bisons called their second timeout down 21-23. Although they fought back at the end the Bisons were unable to get the final push they needed, Cougars won the set 25-23.
Up two sets, the Cougars were feeling the pressure starting the fourth set. The Bisons took a quick lead, and the Cougars called an early timeout down 7-10. The Bisons took the lead and ran with it, first to hit 16, with a score of 16-12 at the technical timeout. With the match on the line the Cougars stepped up following the timeout gaining the next three points, making it a one-point game 15-16. Losing the momentum the Cougars called a timeout down 15-20. With two big kills in the front row the Cougars were quickly back in the game and the Bisons called a timeout up 21-19. With a run from the Cougars the Bisons fell behind 23-24 and called their final timeout. The timeout couldn't stop the Cougars. Davies finished the game with a kill from right side for a final score of 25-23.
When asked what she was looking forward to most this season Cougars Quinn Pelland said, "I'm excited to have a year under my belt. We all trust each other a lot more. We have a good team dynamic and I'm excited to see how that translates on the court. I think tonight was a good start to the season and we were able to get all our jitters out."
The Cougars will be looking for similar results when they play again tomorrow on Kenyon Court for a rematch against the Bisons. The first serve is at 5:00 p.m.