Cougars complete comeback for first Canada West win of season

Cougars complete comeback for first Canada West win of season

(By University of Regina Sports Information)

REGINA, Sask. – The University of Regina's women's volleyball team dug itself a massive hole on Saturday night after losing the opening two sets to Mount Royal, but the Cougars came all the way back with wins in the final three sets to notch their first Canada West win of the season.

After winning in three over the U of R on Friday night, Mount Royal looked like it was well on its way to a weekend sweep after taking the first two sets by identical 25-16 scores.

But the Cougars turned the tide in the third set. They led from wire to wire, opening up an 11-2 lead and holding on for a 25-22 win. Mount Royal went on a late 13-6 run to get to within two at 23-21, but an Ashlee Sandiford kill on the U of R's second set point pushed it to the fourth set. In that fourth, Regina interim head coach Shane Smith called a timeout after seeing his team go down 13-9 and the hometown Cougars responded by scoring 16 of the final 22 points, pushing the match to a fifth set with a 25-19 win.

Regina never trailed in the deciding set, and used four straight points – two of which came off Sandiford kills – to open up an 11-7 lead. The U of R clinched the match on a Jenna Krahn kill as the fifth-year outside hitter smashed a left-side attack off the Mount Royal block and out of bounds for a kill.

"We've been focusing on the process of continual improvement and playing every point, and that helped us tonight after going down 2-0," Smith said after his first conference win. "We were able to ignore the scoreboard and play the game we wanted to after a slow start, and I really thought our serving was able to put pressure on their serve receive and that helped us to build momentum in all areas of the game."

Regina middle Kathleen Bruce had her finest outing at the U Sports level, collecting career highs in kills (13) and hitting percentage (.611) while also leading the Cougars with six blocks. Diana Lumbala had another strong outing for the U of R with 12 kills and 10 digs for her first career double-double, while Sandiford pitched in with 11 kills and seven digs.

Rookie setter Kirstin Greve came in midway through the second set and finished with 26 assists and a career-high 10 digs as she notched her first double-double as a Cougar. Greve controlled a U of R offence that piled up 17 kills and hit .293 as a team in the third set alone, while third-year libero Taylor Ungar added a team-high 16 digs in the win.

Five players had at least eight kills for Mount Royal (5-7) as the visiting Cougars spread around the offence. Alex Donaghy had a team-high 11, Julia Kryzan put down 10, Taylor Pelland and Robyn Potolicki both had nine, and Kylie Willis finished with eight. Willis also led all players at the net with nine blocks, while libero Maddi Quinn accumulated a match-leading 21 digs. Third-year setter Amy Gordon finished with 36 assists and 10 digs for her second double-double of the Canada West schedule.

Regina (1-11) will be on the road at Brandon next weekend for a rare Thursday/Friday series. Mount Royal drops into a tie for eighth place in the Canada West standings and will continue the conference schedule next Friday and Saturday against No. 10-ranked UBC.