MacEwan Athletics and TRU Athletics
KAMLOOPS, B.C. – The MacEwan Griffins took Thompson Rivers University to the limit on the opening night of the 2017-18 Canada West women's volleyball season Friday before falling 15-13 in the fifth set and 3-2 in the match.
TRU recorded a 25-12, 17-25, 25-21, 21-25, 15-13 win in the first of two weekend games between the teams in the Okanagan city. They'll meet again on Saturday night (6 p.m. MT, Canada West TV).
"We had to come in here and learn to play in this gym," said MacEwan head coach Ken Briggs on his team's slow start in the first set. "It is very different playing in here. It is not an excuse. It was a tentative start by our team. We settled down. With our experience, we can do that. We have been here before. We had this. It was only one set and we went from there."
Reigning Canada West second team all-star Cassidy Kinsella picked up where she left off last season, leading the Griffins with 19 kills, 10 digs, three service aces and two block assists. Setter Claire McLoughlin added 34 assists and 12 digs, while middle Haley Gilfillan had eight kills on just 17 chances, adding three aces and five block assists.
First-year outside hitter Yevgeniya Nyukhalova from Ukraine led the WolfPack with 20 kills, while outside hitter Rachel Windhorst chipped in 14 kills and setter Anastasiya Muzyka had 46 assists.
The Griffins' ability to come back in the match and push TRU to the limit could help them in the future if they can cut down on a few late miscues.
"We learned a lot of things especially in the fifth set," said Briggs. "I wish we could have cut down on our mental errors because we pretty well gave it away.
"It was a really good match. I don't know if it is downhill this one way (pointing to the west side of the court). Anytime you were on that side you won. I wish we would have finished on that side. We would have won."
TRU head coach Chad Grimm noted MacEwan's resolve in his post-game comments.
"They are a solid team and they returned all their starters," he said. "I didn't expect the match to be an easy one. I knew after the first set they were going to make a pushback.
"They started to pass the ball really well and they defended strongly. The block defence was definitely advantage them tonight."