Larissa Vicente Ferreira, Dinos Communications
CALGARY – The No. 1-ranked University of Calgary Dinos added another win to their record with a 3-1 victory (21-25, 25-11, 25-18, 25-18) in their first game against the University of Regina Cougars Friday at the Jack Simpson Gym.
Calgary improves to 3-0 on the season, while Regina falls to 2-3.
Hannah Tanasichuk led the way for the Dinos with 15 kills in the match, leading a trio of Calgary players in double digits as Kate Pexman added 13 and Beth Vinnell 11. For the Cougars, Diana Lumbala scored a team-high 12 kills with Ashlee Sandiford and Brooklyn Reynolds chipping in with 11 each.
Known for their defence, the Cougars came out and forced eight errors by the Dinos while scoring 16 kills of their own in the first set as Calgary got out of rhythm offensively. The home side hit just 2.9 per cent in the first set, and Regina handed the Dinos their first set loss of the season 25-21.
From there, though, it was all Dinos.
"We talked about relaxing and staying patient," said Calgary Head Coach Natalie Gurnsey. "We were trying to be aggressive on offence, but their slower pace got us out of rhythm. And we needed to be more aggressive serving."
The Dinos' serve was much more aggressive in the second, with Leah Shevkenek serving 10 consecutive points – including one of her four aces on the evening – to give the Dinos a 14-4 lead. That led the Dinos to a significantly higher hitting percentage in the frame, pounding 15 kills to the Cougars' 9 as the Dinos took the second by the most lopsided score of the night, 25-11.
With two more sets on the way, the third one began with the Dinos in a more comfortable position, which made them have 12 kills and .348 hitting percentage. In contrast, the Cougars had 9 kills and .118 hitting percentage. Regina was hesitant when serving, by the end of the third set they showed some fight. However, Calgary still won by a 25-18 score.
The final set was a tight one. The Cougars and the Dinos kept shortening the difference between one another as soon as their rival scored as Regina put up a fight. Kenzie Vaandering's block decided the match and closed the score for the Dinos at 25-18.
"We had to work through some stuff during the first set, but I am proud of how we came together and finished strong," said Calgary's Emma Kastelein.said. "I think we slowed it down and worked in our game and worked with more aggressive serving and just allowed ourselves the time to flow into our system."
With the Cougars keying on the left side and middle, Tanasichuk was left open through much of the first three sets, leading to her team-leading performance.
"Teams have to make decisions against us because we have so many weapons," said Gurnsey. "They were making hard commitments to the middle and left side, and Hannah did a really good job with the seams she was given."
The Dinos and Cougars will face off again Saturday afternoon in the Jack Simpson Gym, with first serve at 4 p.m. MT.
Photo by David Moll