VANCOUVER – Coming within a set of knocking off the defending national women's volleyball champion UBC Thunderbirds on Saturday night, the MacEwan Griffins added yet another moral victory to their growing collection this season.
Unfortunately, that officially also comes as their 10th-straight loss, falling just short of what would have been one of the most talked about upsets of the Canada West season in a 3-2 defeat at UBC (19-25, 25-20, 22-25, 25-15, 15-7).
"We're the best 0-10 team there is in any league," said MacEwan head coach Ken Briggs. "I'm getting tired of being told that by everyone else."
Briggs heard the praise echoing throughout the hallways in and around UBC's War Memorial Gym.
"Their men's coach said 'Ken don't stop, your kids are doing the right things. Boy, it was enjoyable to watch.' We had random people pulling me over as we're still going and saying how incredible it was.
"The alumni said we're the best team to come into that gym this year."
That's all nice to hear, of course, but it still doesn't make the poison pill go down any smoother. The Griffins remain in the Canada West cellar, now five games back of the final playoff spot.
"It's another moral victory and a little bit closer," said Briggs. "It was a new situation, which we were really happy we were put into. We competed with the national champs. I can't ask for more, except it would be nice to get the first win."
Cassidy Kinsella led the Griffins with a game-high 19 kills on an buzzsaw-like volume of 70 attack attempts. A week after setting a new MacEwan school record for digs in a match, libero Karly Edgar had 26 – fourth-best all-time.
"Cass was really good, Karly defended well. It was all around," said Briggs. "We defended really well and brought them up where they had to play even with us. They had that ability to match us with their experience. We got it to a fifth set and came up short because they have another gear."
UBC (8-2) was led by Kiera Van Ryk (18 kills, three aces, three blocks and 22 digs), Ciara Hanley (nine kills and six blocks), Gabrielle Attieh (12 kills on .579 efficiency with three aces), Alessandra Gentile (47 assists) and Samantha Patko (26 digs).
The Griffins now return home where they will host Trinity Western (7-3) on Dec. 1-2, aiming to pick up a win before the Christmas break. They've certainly learned they can play with the best teams in Canada West.
"Their resilience (is incredible)," said Briggs. "I can't tell you enough about how much work they put in here."