Larissa Vicente Ferreira; Dinos Communications
CALGARY – The University of Calgary Dinos are headed back to the Canada West final after once again rallying from an opening set loss, beating the UBC Thunderbirds 3-1 (15-25, 25-20, 25-23, 25-22) at the Jack Simpson Gym.
Like Game 1, the Dinos found themselves trailing on Saturday after a difficult first set. The home side found a way to respond to win three consecutive sets to close out their Canada West semi-final series.
"The game was a rollercoaster. UBC is a great team and they push us to do our best in every single point. I'm really proud of our girls for coming out on top," said Dinos head coach Natalie Gurnsey.
Calgary will now have the chance to defend their conference title, matching up against the Trinity Western Spartans next week.
"We haven't played Trinity for a couple of months, they've got a good and strong middle attack – we're going to need to be prepared to defend," explained Gurnsey.
In the first set, the Dinos defence was not at its best, and the Thunderbirds made them pay. UBC collected 14 kills in the opening set while holding the home team to only five. Calgary ended the first with seven service errors, compared to just two by UBC as they took the set 25-15.
Strong serving by Emma Kastelein and Hannah Tanasichuk gave the Dinos a five-point lead in the early moments of the second set. The Thunderbirds closed the gap to two by the technical timeout and had the Jack Simpson Gym on edge as they were within striking distance of taking a 2-0 lead in the match.
With senior setter Leah Shevkenek at the line, the Dinos went on a run and closed out the set with a 25-20 win.
The pace did not slow down in the third with the Dinos and Thunderbirds exchanging leads throughout the set. UBC was in front by as many as four points, but ultimately had their worst hitting performance of the night in the third, finishing at .220. The Dinos tied the game at 22-22 and later at 23-23 before scoring the final two points of the set to win 25-23.
The Dinos dominated for portions of the fourth set, but a massive run by the Thunderbirds kept everyone on their toes until the final play. With Calgary leading 21-12, the visiting team scored six straight points to make it a three-point game.
The Thunderbirds cut the deficit to two, but that was as close as they came. The series would end with a huge block and eventually a kill by Beth Vinnell.
Calgary was led offensively by Tanasichuk, who ended the night with 14 kills. UBC's Kiera Van Ryk finished with a game-high 22 kills.
Both teams have clinched their spots at the nationals in Edmonton March 15-18.
The Dinos will host the Canada West Final at Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) on Friday, March 8.
Photo by David Moll