Kayla Kievits, Cougars Athletics
CALGARY – After a night of incredible comebacks the Cougars lost their rhythm. On night one of a two-night match up the Cougars swept the Thunderbirds, however in match number two the tables changed and it was the Thunderbirds leaving with the win. The final scores were 25-21, 25-10 and 21-25 and 25-22.
The Booster Juice Players of the game from the Cougars, Dholi Thokbuom and from the Thunderbirds Brynn Pasin. Cougars Thokbuom led her team in kills with a total of 10 double any other player. Thunderbirds top attackers were Pasin and Kiera Van Ryk. The Cougars finished the match with a serve percentage of 0.886 and the Thunderbirds with 0.842. The Cougars held an advantage in team blocks with a total of nine compared to the Thunderbirds six.
The Thunderbirds and Cougars first set of their second match seemed to follow a pattern similar to the night before. The Thunderbirds took an early lead and forced the Cougars to use their first timeout only a few points into the set, down 4-10. The Cougars tried to push back and close the lead, but the Thunderbirds strong offensive attacks and consistent serving aloud them to remain ahead 16-11 at the technical timeout. Cougars Chantel Park served an ace looking to help the Cougars get back in the game, but the Thunderbirds were strong at the net blocking nearly every attack allowing them to keep their lead. The Cougars called their second timeout of the set down 17-23. Finding success after their timeout with well-placed attacks the Cougars crept in within three-points, and the Thunderbirds called a timeout 23-20. Ultimately the Cougars couldn't make the comeback they had the night before and the set ended with a kill from Thunderbirds Kiera Van Ryk with a final score of 25-21.
The Thunderbirds went on a roll starting the second set quickly up 7-0. Strong and consistent serving from Thunderbirds Van Ryk allowed the Thunderbirds to keep racking up the points. The Cougars struggled to return the ball and called a timeout falling behind 4-12. Struggling to find the court the Cougars only scored one additional point before the technical timeout rolled around 5-16. Despite multiple substitutions from the Cougars they couldn't find their rhythm. The Thunderbirds stayed constant and it led them to a win. An ace from Thunderbirds Van Ryk ended the second set. The final score of the set was 25-10, putting the Thunderbirds up two sets to none.
The third set started as a closer race. For the first time the two teams went back and forth for points. A kill from Cougars Nicky Zalasky tied the game for the first time at 13. A few short points later the Thunderbirds re-grasped the lead, but only by one entering the technical timeout 16-15. When Cougars Zalasky went on a serving streak and put them in the lead 19-17 the Thunderbirds called their first timeout. With momentum on their side the Cougars pushed forward increasing their lead. With the set on the line the Thunderbirds called their second timeout down 20-24. The Thunderbirds were unable to stop the Cougars and lost 21-25.
Feeling the pressure of the match the Cougars used their win to motivate them going into the fourth set. For a second time the teams started out going point-for-point. Both teams were looking to play smart in order to get the first lead of the set. At the technical timeout the Thunderbirds had pulled ahead slightly leading 16-14. After the Thunderbirds missed their serve returning from the technical timeout the Cougars seized the opportunity and quickly took the lead 17-16. The Thunderbirds called a timeout looking to re-group. Yet again the teams went back and forth on each point, when tied at 20 the Cougars used their first timeout. There was no break for either team, and the Cougars quickly called another timeout with the score tied at 22. After a hard fought set the Thunderbirds put it away with a kill from Van Ryk for a final score of 25-22 ending the match in four sets.
The Cougars start 2019 with a split after two hard fought matches. Next up, they will travel to Thompson Rivers for the start of a two-game away trip, before returning back to Kenyon Court Feb. 1, 2019. February will be a busy month at Mount Royal University as we host both Calgary and Saskatchewan on a last stretch before playoffs.