Matt Gutsch - Golden Bears and Pandas Athletics
EDMONTON – Mary Pless and Meg Casault each piled up 13 kills to lead No.1 ranked University of Alberta Pandas volleyball team to a straight sets 3-0 (25-19, 25-22 and 25-20) victory over the MacEwan Griffins on Friday night at the Saville Community Sports Centre.
NEED to know: Alberta has now won 6 straight matches against MacEwan, and has only dropped one set to Griffins since they joined Canada West in 2014-15 Game Star: Meg Casault (UofA) – 13 kills, .242 hitting %, 4 aces Game Star: Cassidy Kinsella (MacEwan) – 13 kills, .414 hitting %, 10 digs Stat Line: Pandas – 42 kills, 17 errors, 113 attacks, .221%, 37 assists, 12 aces, 8 serve errors, 5 receive errors, 40 digs, 4.0 total blocks. Griffins – 29 kills, 11 errors, 88 attacks, .205%, 29 assists, 5 aces, 7 serve errors, 12 receive errors, 40 digs, 3.0 total blocks
The win lifts the Pandas to a 4-0 record to start the 2016-17 season, while MacEwan falls to 2-4. Both teams will continue their Canada West seasons next weekend when the Pandas take on the Manitoba Bisons in Winnipeg, while the Griffins travel to B.C. to take on the No.4 ranked Trinity Western Spartans.
Pless, the daughter of Canadian Football League Hall of Famer Willie Pless, had a terrific match in the Pandas' home opener, registering 13 kills, a .333 hitting percentage and four kills. Casault, Alberta's lone returning all-Canadian from last season, also picked up a .242 hitting percentage as well as four aces to finish with 17 points on the night.
Alberta was also dominant from the serve line against their municipal rivals as well, spinning 12 aces on the maroon clad Griffins, including a game high six aces from third-year middle Shauny Hogg. MacEwan managed five aces on the night, including Haley Gilfillan's pair, but also picked up seven serving errors and 12 serve receive errors to cost themselves 19 points in the serve game.
After a strong opening set, which the Evergreen and Gold won 25-19, the Griffins made a compelling run towards the end of the second set to push Alberta. Although the Pandas led 24-16, they were helpless as MacEwan scored a 6-0 run to make it a two point set. Pless, however, stemmed the tide and provided the set winning point to send Alberta into the third with a 2-0 match lead.
The two teams traded the first eight points of the final set, but Alberta slowly pulled away to lead 16-10 at the technical timeout. The Pandas once again climbed out to a big lead as the set wore on, this time getting out front by a 22-16 lead, but the Griffins once again managed to close the gap, this time climbing to within three at 23-20, before kills by Casault and Karly Janssen ended the match at 25-20.