Larissa Vicente Ferreira; Dinos Communications
CALGARY – The University of Calgary Dinos clinched at least second place in the Canada West standings on the penultimate day of the regular season with a straight-sets win (25-19, 25-18, 25-20) over the UBC Thunderbirds Friday afternoon in the Jack Simpson Gym.
Calgary improves to 18-5 on the year while dropping UBC to 15-8, snapping the Thunderbirds' seven-match win streak in the process.
Dinos setter Leah Shevkenek came into the match needing just one assist to set a new Canada West career record, which she did in the opening set on a kill by Hannah Tanasichuk. With 27 assists in the contest and one match remaining in her illustrious career, the new all-time conference record is 3,813 assists – a number that will surely climb Saturday.
UBC's Kiera Van Ryk led the game with 12 kills, the only player on both teams to reach a double-digit mark. Calgary's Hannah Tanasichuk picked up nine kills to lead the Dinos, followed by her teammates Kate Pexman and Beth Vinnell, both with seven kills.
The game was filled with rallies and tense moments throughout the match.
The first set started off slow, with the teams tied throughout. However, after the first half, the Dinos were able to establish a four-point lead against their opponent. The initial set had one of the tensest and longest rallies of the match which gave the Dinos an opportunity to better their defence. Even though the Dinos had five service errors and the Thunderbirds had none, Calgary was still able to take the first set with a 25-19 score.
The following set started with the Dinos maintaining a three-point lead. UBC's Van Ryk created chaos at the net and the Thunderbirds were able to catch up. It wasn't the prettiest display offensively: out of 34 attack attempts, UBC committed 11 errors and had a -.088 hitting percentage, while Calgary had 26 attack attempts, only six errors and a .077 hitting percentage. Dinos middle Beth Vinnell picked up a couple of key solo blocks on Van Ryk, and the Dinos took the second set by 25-18.
In the final set, the Dinos dominated at the net. With a consistent three-point lead, the Dinos gathered a trio of service aces. After the first half of the third set, the game was tied and even though UBC took the lead, it did not last long. Calgary was able to pull away for a 25-20 win.
"I was waiting for those ones all game," said Calgary libero Kennedy Snape, who made a couple of key digs of Van Ryk in the third set. "She is a hard-cross court hitter, those were my favorite digs. And, I'm just really happy that we were able to collect the points afterwards. I'm only one piece of the puzzle, which is really exciting."
Calgary made a statement after a rocky few weeks, playing a complete game.
"I think the last couple of weeks we came off some losses against teams we should have probably won against," added Snape. "They came out to play – so we've been really working to get our competitive edge back. And I think today is a three-setter against a great, great team, we just really executed what we needed to.
"We came in with a want and a desire to win and that's the biggest difference in our league. The teams that really want it are the ones that are going to come out and win."
Calgary and UBC will play the final match of the regular season Saturday afternoon, with first serve at 12 p.m. MT on CanadaWest.tv.
Photo by David Moll