Connor Hood, Golden Bears and Pandas Athletics
EDMONTON - University of Alberta Pandas head coach Laurie Eisler won her 700th career game, as her Pandas took down the MacEwan University Griffins 3-0 (25-19, 25-12, 29-27), Thursday night at MacEwan's City Centre Gym.
Eisler becomes the first University of Alberta coach to reach the 700 career win plateau, and now owns a 700-262 overall career record. Eisler passed Clare Drake's University of Alberta coaching wins record of 697 two weeks ago in Kamloops against Thompson Rivers, and now becomes the first coach in Alberta history to reach the 700 win plateau. Her 25 year run at the helm of the Pandas has also included seven national and ten conference championships.
"Honestly, it doesn't feel any different than win 699. They are all satisfying and rewarding in their own ways." said the legendary bench boss after the historic win. "I received a lot of communications from friends and family over the past couple days, so that feels great, but I'm mostly happy we got the win over MacEwan tonight."
With the win, the U Sports No. 1 Pandas stay perfect and improve to 3-0 in 2016, while MacEwan suffers their third loss of the season, dropping to 2-3.
Fifth-year outside hitter Meg Casualt paced the Pandas with 18 kills on 38 attacks, while sophomore Mary Pless also reached double-digit kills, finishing with 10. Fourth-year Cassidy Kinsella led MacEwan with nine kills on Thursday night.
Despite entering as the heavy underdog, MacEwan opened the match strong by racing out to a quick 5-2 lead. However, two of their 25 errors gave Alberta some life, as they evened the match at seven. The Pandas never looked back in the set, cruising to a 25-19 win.
It was the same for the top team in the country in the second, as Alberta raced out to a commanding and insurmountable 13-2 lead. MacEwan's sloppy attack was their downfall in the second, connecting for just five kills on 33 attacks in the 25-12 set loss.
The two teams played a much more even third, with the Griffins improving their attack percentage by over .300 points, and neither team holding a lead of over five at any point. MacEwan earned a set point late in the third, but three straight points gave Alberta the 29-27 win.
"I thought we started the game a little tight. We settled in nicely and carried that over to the second set as well." said Eisler of her team's performance. "We lapsed a bit in the third set, but that was the best pressure MacEwan gave us all night."
These two teams will resume their series tomorrow, as the Pandas host the Griffins at the Saville Community Sports Centre at 7:30 p.m.
Photo Credit: Robert Antoniuk