Larissa Vicente Ferreira; Dinos Communications
CALGARY – The No. 2 ranked the University of Calgary Dinos bounced back from a heartbreaking finish Friday to collect a 3-1 win (21-25, 25-18, 25-18, 32-30) over the University of Alberta Pandas on Saturday at the Jack Simpson Gym.
Led by a career performance from third-year outside hitter Hannah Tanasichuk, who pounded 27 kills to miss the school single-game record by one, the Dinos dropped the first set before reeling off three straight wins, including another epic finish that finally went their way, 32-30 in the fourth. As the score continued to climb, Alberta's Kory White and Calgary's Kate Pexman traded kills back and forth, but it was a kill by Tanasichuk that ended it in Calgary's favour.
The Dinos improve to 15-3 on the year, while the Pandas drop to 13-5 with six matches remaining.
"All I was thinking was 'just breathe, be patient and stay aggressive,'" said Dinos setter Leah Shevkenek, who picked up one more ace on the night to pull into a tie for fifth all-time in Canada West. "I think we did a great job with that."
"You got to love and hate those," Dinos Head Coach Natalie Gurnsey commented. "The reason why we play is for those moments that are close and that are hard for every single ball. But it is also nerve-wracking to sit on the side as a coach and there is not really lots that I can do. I'm so happy that the girls pulled it out."
Alberta's White led her squad with 22 kills with Vanessa Jarman adding a dozen, while Pexman's 17 and Beth Vinnell's 10 followed Tanasichuk for the Dinos.
For the second night in a row the Pandas came out flying, hitting 51.6 per cent in the first set and pounding 17 kills to take the opener 25-21. But the Dinos settled in and, thanks to eight kills by Tanasichuk,
The Dinos had no signs of slowing down by the time the third set started. By the time the set initiated, Kate Pexman already had 4 service aces. They made adjustments to scrappy and broken plays and adapted nicely against the 27 attack attempts from the Pandas. Their changes resulted in a seven-point lead through the first half of the set while building their defensive line and gathering two blocks during the set. Calgary kept their momentum going and won the third set with 25-18 on the scoreboard, setting the stage for the fourth.
After Alberta won the fifth set 20-18 Friday night, the Dinos returned the favour in an incredible fourth frame that featured 125 attack attempts and 36 kills between the two teams as Calgary closed out the 32-30 win.
"Our offense was more efficient tonight, Leah [Shevkenek] did a good job with using all the people and moving the ball around," said Gurnsey. "Hannah Tanasichuk had a huge night and just played outstandingly for us."
Alberta returns home to face the Saskatchewan Huskies next week, while the Dinos will enjoy their second-half bye week. Calgary returns to action Feb. 1-2 when the Dinos face the MacEwan Griffins in Edmonton.
Photo by David Moll