EDMONTON – In a back-and-forth affair, the University of Manitoba Bisons managed to get the final advantage to claim the win, earning a five-set decision (25-12, 16-25, 19-25, 26-24, 15-12) over the No.2 University of Alberta Pandas and split the weekend series, Saturday night at Saville Community Sports Centre.
Sophomore right side Kory White and rookie outside hitter Julia Zonneveld led the home team on the scoresheet, netting 16 kills apiece while fourth-year middle Shauntelle Hogg added 10 kills to go with four aces. Senior setter Eryn Orysiuk also tallied four aces to go with her game-high 52 assists.
Sophomore right side Kearley Abbott notched a team-high 16 assists while second-year left side Josie Abbott also cracked double digits with 11. Fifth-year setter Brittany Habing recorded 47 assists.
Manitoba came in strong to the match, starting with an 8-3 run in the opening set and adding a 5-1 run soon after to capture all the momentum, heading into the technical timeout with a 16-7 lead.
The Pandas had no answer to a crackling 50% Bison attack percentage, especially to Kearley Abbott’s half-dozen kills in the first frame, Orysiuk unintentionally finishing things with a two-hit error to give Manitoba a 1-0 set lead.
Yet it was Alberta who came out with an 8-3 lead to start the second, shifting the momentum in their favour, earning a 16-9 lead at the technical timeout before White tied up the set score with a kill that went over top of the block and found the back of the Bison court.
The next two sets were a constant war of attrition, the opposing squads launching a few extended assaults each for some decent point streaks but otherwise leaving little room on the scoreboard for much of a lead.
Work from the service line (four aces) as well as on the front line (four total blocks) gave Alberta the advantage in the third set, sophomore outside hitter Erin Corbett scoring an ace off fourth-year libero Cassie Bujan to claim set point.
The fourth was even tighter than the third set, the Bisons and Pandas tying 12 times throughout the set, including one last time at 24-24 before Kearley Abbott found Alberta court at the back and, despite a few Alberta recoveries to keep the rally going, second-year middle Vanessa Jarman sent her attack long to give Manitoba the set, setting up the match for a fifth and final.
Last year’s silver medalists took a 6-1 run to build an 8-4 lead but Panda service errors and a resilient Bison team had the score knotted up, Josie Abbott tying the game at 12-12 and firing two more kills before Kearley Abbott sent a serve that Alberta struggled to recover, the ball going too close to the net and becoming unplayable, resulting in the upset by the visitors.
The Pandas, now at 4-2, stay at home next weekend to host the UBC Thunderbirds while 2-4 Manitoba heads home to host the MacEwan Griffins.