CALGARY - Kory White finished with a game-high 22 kills, leading the third-seeded Alberta Pandas to a 3-1 (25-13, 21-25, 29-27, 25-14) win over the second-seeded Mount Royal Cougars in Game 1 of their Canada West Semifinal series.
Game one was full of ups and downs for both sides.
The match started off poorly for the Cougars who lost star middle Nyadholi Thokbuom to an ankle injury in the first ten points. The Pandas would take control of the first set getting to the technical timeout with a nine point lead. The home team would struggle to regroup as Alberta took the first set 25-13.
Thokbuom would make a triumphant return in the second as the Cougars looked to even things up. The Pandas were reluctant to give them any ground though as they made it to the technical timeout up 16-10. Fifth year Chantel Park would go on a serving run right after the break that would tie things up at 16 points each. The Cougars would end up taking over the set winning 25-21 on an absolute bomb from Park.
Both teams seemed to settle in for the third set coming out swinging hard. On the Cougars side it was Thokbuom crushing a backset from Quinn Pellend. On the Pandas side Canada West kill leader Kory White was swinging for the fences. The home squad would force the first timeout at 12-7. Alberta would grind their way back to within one point by the technical. They would end up winning the set 29-27 after a crazy back and forth battle.
Pandas Head Coach Laurie Eisler said this of the tight match, "We knew they would bounce back from that first set and getting Dholi back on the court was inspiring for them. We had a let down in the second set and we learned from that and I was happy with the way we battled in the ultimate pressure moments of the third set."
Alberta came out strong in the fourth rolling with the momentum and forcing an early timeout at 6-2. The Cougars would work their way back into the set making it just a two point difference at 12-10. Alberta put a stop to the run pushing the lead to seven points at 19-12. they would end up finishing the set 25-14 and win the match three sets to one.
The two teams will meet again Saturday at 6:00pm MST in game two of the Canada West semifinals.