Larissa Vicente Ferreira; Dinos Communications
CALGARY – The University of Calgary Dinos clinched first place in the 2018-19 Canada West standings with a 3-1 win over the UBC Thunderbirds (25-17, 25-16, 26-28, 25-23) on Saturday at the Jack Simpson Gym.
The Dinos finish the regular season 19-5 and can finish no worse than a first-place tie with Trinity Western. Calgary owns the tiebreaker with the Spartans thanks so a superior sets won/lost ratio, meaning the Dinos will have home court advantage throughout the Canada West playoffs. UBC falls to 15-9 and will head to Regina to open the postseason next week.
Calgary's Hannah Tanasichuk led the teams with 19 kills throughout the game, with teammate Kate Pexman also hitting double-digits with 10 kills. On UBC's side, Kiera Van Ryk and Tessa Davis were the leaders, with 14 and 10 kills, respectively.
The Dinos started the game with the same attitude from Friday's game. They focused on controlling their defensive line and picked up three blocks in the opening set, while the Thunderbirds only had one. Calgary kept on holding the block against UBC's Van Ryk which, through the set, allowed them to keep a seven-point lead and forced the Thunderbirds to commit eight critical attack errors. Calgary took the first set with a 25-17 score.
Things continued Calgary's way in the second set, with the Dinos picking up five blocks in the frame – including a monster one-on-one stuff by Vinnell on Van Ryk. The final was 25-16, sending the Dinos into the third set with plenty of momentum.
The energy came out of the room when, midway through the third, reigning Canada West player of the year Pexman recorded her 10th kill before leaving the game with an injury. Leading 13-9 at the time, the Dinos shuffled the deck and the Thunderbirds picked up some momentum, eventually taking a 28-26 decision to extend the match to four. There, Calgary outlasted UBC to a 25-23 score, sweeping the weekend and clinching the conference pennant.
"The kind of adversity we faced with Kate going down, that's really hard to go back from," said Dinos head coach Natalie Gurnsey. "So, that changed things for us – it changed our line-up, UBC changed their line-up against us. But other than that, we played similar if not better than last night.
"We rallied over a difficult weekend against a really good team. I'm very proud of them."
Following the final conference match of her career, Dinos setter Leah Shevkenek was honoured by Gurnsey for her contributions to the program. Shevkenek extended her career assists record, set in Friday's weekend opener, to 3,851 with another 38 in Saturday's contest.
"I'm overwhelmed! It's incredible," said the fifth-year Calgary native who also picked up 15 digs in the match. "We know what we have to do against this team. It was all about the passion and the confidence in each other."
While the result means UBC will head to Regina to open the playoffs, the Dinos will have a chance to qualify for the U SPORTS national championship at home when they host a Canada West quarter-final series beginning Thursday, Feb. 21.
Photo by David Moll