Jefferson Hagen, MacEwan Athletics
EDMONTON – Persevering through some wobbles as they faced a much more game UBC squad in Saturday's rematch, the MacEwan Griffins wrapped up a weekend sweep with a 3-1 victory in Canada West women's volleyball action at the David Atkinson Gym.
Mckenna Stevenson and Lauren Holmes combined for a big block on Anna Price to end the Thunderbirds' evening, wrapping up a 25-21, 23-25, 25-17, 25-20 victory that improves their record to 11-5. UBC falls to 6-8.
"We were a little bit of a roller-coaster," admitted MacEwan head coach Ken Briggs. "That said, there were very few times when I didn't feel like we were in control. We made a few more mistakes, they pushed a little harder and had a little more success.
"I still think we blocked really well. We blocked another 10 and touched a lot of good balls," he added. "We didn't pass as well as last night and that put us in trouble a little bit more."
UBC head coach Doug Riemer was looking for more battle from his team than they showed on Friday. And he got it as the Thunderbirds limited the big runs that MacEwan used to win comfortably in straight sets a night earlier.
"I think we worked hard in preparation because there were lots of things we need to get better at," he said. "But the main thing is we wanted to make sure we were coming to bring our better selves. For large chunks of that we did.
"We at least made them work harder today, but still too many unforced errors and an inability to put the ball away. I thought their libero played well again and they got some good offensive performances."
Holmes was MacEwan's biggest difference-maker in the match as she changed the momentum multiple times, often powering it right through UBC's block. She led the Griffins with 13 kills on a .303 hitting percentage, adding a match-high 17 digs, three service aces and four blocks.
UBC was led by Brynn Passin, who nailed 10 kills with four blocks and eight digs. Veteran setter Olivia Furlan was in and out of the lineup in her second match of the season after recovering from an ankle injury, but still managed to record 30 assists. Tessa Davis, also in her second match of the season, was a difference-maker with nine kills.
But their inability to put away kills (a .061 team efficiency shows the evidence) as the Griffins extended rallies prevented UBC from posting a result.
"There were some rallies there where it was over three or four times," said Riemer. "Longer rallies, we're struggling to change things up or find a way to get the kill. That's where we needed to probably be a little better."
For the Griffins, the weekend sweep is important as they continue to push towards the program's first Canada West playoff berth. They're now just one win shy of last season's total and they still have eight matches remaining.
"We've just got to keep building," said Briggs. "For us, that's a great weekend. Now we shift it into the cross-town rivals next weekend."
That would be Alberta, who will visit the David Atkinson Gym for a pair of matches on Jan. 17-18. UBC will stay on the road and visit Manitoba on the same dates.