CALGARY - The Mount Royal Cougars took game two of the Canada West semifinals with a gritty 3-1 win (18-25, 25-19, 25-19, 25-18) over the Alberta Pandas, Saturday night at Kenyon Court.
Leading the game in kills for the Cougars was Nyadholi Thokbuom with 14 while Kory White was solid again for the Pandas with 21.
The first set was within one point until 11-11 when the Pandas took off and grabbed a seven point lead. Alberta's offense was buzzing in the first thanks in part to the impressive back row ability of Kory White. Cougars outside Haley Roe subbed in at 21-13 and immediately made a difference finishing her first two attacking opportunities. The visitors would end up taking this one 25-18.
The Cougars would come back strong in the second set jumping out to a lead and holding onto it through the technical timeout. Dholi Thokbuom was strong in this one helping lead the home squad to a 25-19 set win tying the match up at one set a piece.
The momentum would stay with the Cougars into the third set as they jumped into a 5-1 lead. They would maintain the score gap until the Pandas rallied back with some great blocks making the score 13-10. It was back and forth after that with the Pandas climbing their way back into the set by the technical closing the gap to one point. The Cougars wouldn't let the momentum swing against them though as they returned to the court with an aggressive offense and won the set 25-19.
The blue and white got off to a hot start in the fourth going up six to one but the Pandas weren't willing to give up easily. They fought hard against a loud Kenyon Court crowd to keep the lead from getting out of reach. Cassidy Kitchen was on fire again Saturday and she helped get the Cougars to the technical timeout with a five-point lead. Alberta would not give in coming back strong after the break but the Cougars weren't willing to give any ground. They remained solid at the net and toot the fourth set 25-18.
"I think Mount Royal served really well and that got us out of system. We need to figure out a way to slow down their middles a little bit,” said Pandas assistant coach Carolyn O’Dwyer. “For us it's about resetting and not letting the atmosphere get to us. We were here last week and I think we know what to do and we'll come back stronger tomorrow."
The two teams will now play a third series-deciding match Sunday at 3:00pm MST.