By Larry Read
Thompson Rivers University Sports Information Officer
The Thompson Rivers University WolfPack women's volleyball team gave their fans an early Christmas present on Saturday night (Nov 14).
In their final home match before the break, the WolfPack batted back to win a five set affair with the MacEwan Griffins on the Warner Rentals court at the Tournament Capital Centre.
The scores were 29-27,25-23,14-25,,23-25,15-7.
The WolfPack are now 4 and 6 on the year while the Griffins fall to .500 at 5 and 5. Kendra Finch led the way for Thompson Rivers. She had a career night with 22 kills in 54 attempts with 20 digs, two service aces and one block assist as she was named the "TRU Bookstore/McDonalds Leader of the Pack player or the match". Olga Savenchuk had 13 kills in 44 opportunities.
MacEwan was led by Haley Gilfillan with 15 kills while Janna Ogle and McKenna Stevenson contributed 14 and 13 kills respectively.
Both teams wore purple t shirts in their warm up as part of the #I Believe You" initiative bringing awareness and support for victims of sexual assault. This was the second year that the WolfPack women's volleyball team has done this which coincided with the release of a public service announcement of support.
The Griffins jumped out to an early lead and held a three-point advantage until he WolfPack got a service ace from Morgan Rigelhoff to cut the deficit to 8-7. Later, tied at 15, Stevenson of MacEwan dealt a service ace to give them a 16-15 advantage going into the break. The first set was a marathon. Tied at 27, the WolfPack got a kill from Savenchuk to take the lead and then a service ace courtesy of Abby Spratt gave the home team the victory. Savenchuk had five kills in the first set. Spratt chipped in with 11 assists.
In the second set, MacEwan went on a tear and opened up a six-point lead (12-16) that was highlighted by a service ace from Stevenson. That was her second of the match at that point. TRU battled back to cut the deficit to a pair (12-10) at one point but MacEwan carried a 16-13 lead at the tech time out. But the gusty Pack scored four points at the end of the set to rally and take it 25-23. Rookie Erin Mutch had five kills on 11 chances while Kendra Finch had four kills on eight opportunities for TRU . Ogle and Hailey Cornelis had three kills apiece for MacEwan.
Third set began like the second, with MacEwan breaking a 3 all tie scoring four straight points to move to 7-4. After the Griffins took a five-point lead at 9-4, head coach Chad Grimm called time out to try and refocus his TRU crew. The ensuing play was a long rally, which was awarded to MacEwan when Mutch hit the ball down the left sideline, which just squeaked out. MacEwan was up 16-10 going into the tech time out. MacEwan propelled themselves to a 11 point lead and took set three 25-14. After three sets, MacEwan had four players with eight kills a piece: Ogle, Haley Gilfillan, Stevenson and Cornelis.
The fourth set saw the Griffins build on that momentum and had a six point lead going into the tech time out (16-10). But the WolfPack, led by a service ace and a couple of key blocks from Gabrielle Podloski cut the deficit to 17-14. Avery Pottle had four kills for TRU but the Griffins got five kills that set from Ogle, Stevenson and Gilfillan en route to the 25-23 victory sending the match to a fifth and deciding set.
In that set, the Pack jumped out to a 4-0 lead with Podloski serving. MacEwan was forced to call a time out to try and get her off balance. Returning to action, Podloski delivered a service ace to give Thompson Rivers a 5 point advantage. The Pack then took the next two points to lead 7-0. After MacEwan got on the board, Finch's authoritative kill, her 14th of the match gave the Pack a seven point lead going to the exchange of sides. The teams continued to grind it out until Thompson Rivers got a huge solo bock from Pottle at 13-7. The set and match was decided on a Abby Spratt kil.
Both teams have two matches remaining before they break for Christmas.
The WolfPack will head to Edmonton next weekend (Nov 30-Dec 1) to face the University of Alberta Pandas. The Griffins return home to entertain the University of Winnipeg Wesmen.
All matches are webcast on a pay per view basis on www.Canadawesttv.
THEY SAID IT (post match quotes):
TRU head coach Chad Grimm:
On match: "It wasn't perfect tonight. We switched personnel. Some people came in at different stints and did a great job. We made some changes trying to find some stability and balance. With a young team, sometimes it is hard to get that when you play for over two hours to have that focus all the time. Everybody who came in did their jobs. It wasn't easy on either side tonight. Happy we came out on the positive end of that grind."
On Kendra Finch: " She was great. Another errorless match. She had one last weekend against Winnipeg and I said she would never do that again. But she did and proved me wrong. I think the veteran players were disappointed about last night. If we got one or two of them going, it could have been different as well. Before the fifth set, I pulled Avery, Kendra and Olga aside and said they had to take ownership of this match. Kendra really did in the fifth set especially."
COACHES POST GAME VIDEO INTERVIEW: click here
MacEwan coach Ken Briggs (17th season):
On match: "To take it to five was a bit of a victory. There was a team out there who wanted it more. That should have been over in three. We kept shooting ourselves in the foot. That was our fault. Credit to them. I thought Finch had an amazing game. Not only how many kills she got but how efficient she was. She led them tonight."
COACHES POST GAME VIDEO INTERVIEW: click here