EDMONTON – Hailey Cornelis sent an over-bump to the floor and the MacEwan Griffins poured off the bench to celebrate a landmark result on Friday night.
For the first time since joining Canada West in 2014, MacEwan defeated cross-town rival Alberta in a regular season women's volleyball match, taking down the Pandas 3-1 in the David Atkinson Gym (25-20, 23-25, 25-16, 26-24).
Over the past five-plus seasons, MacEwan had beaten every other team in the conference at one time or another, but the Pandas were the last ones standing.
With the win, MacEwan improves to 12-5 in the standings and are inching closer to their next watershed moment – a Canada West playoff spot – something the program has never accomplished. Alberta falls to 9-6.
Alberta had its moments in the match – most notably an impressive 8-0 rally to steal the second set after being down 23-17 – but head coach Laurie Eisler thought they were generally fighting it.
"It was nice, but it didn't fix the problem," she said of the run that tied the match 1-1 at the time. "It was a tough night for us, for sure. It was nice to get rewarded for that nice spurt of solid play on our side, but you've got to back that up with coming back strong in the third. We didn't do that.
"I'm happy the team stuck with it and we kept battling, but we didn't start great. It took a while for us to get things going the way we wanted it to go."
Kory White led the Pandas with 16 kills, while Julia Zonneveld had 12 to go with 13 digs. Libero Janae Eisler had a match-high 25 digs, impressively keeping multiple plays alive for her team.
Holmes was on fire for the Griffins with 20 kills on .302 efficiency. Mckenna Stevenson added 12 kills and a match-high five blocks and Kylie Schubert had 45 assists.
The rivals will meet in the rematch on Saturday (5 p.m., David Atkinson Gym, Canada West TV presented by Co-op).
"The season's long and you're going to have these really challenging matches, especially in an opponent's gym," said Laurie Eisler. "MacEwan played great – maybe the best I've seen them play. That's great for them and we just have to go back and look at the video and learn what we can, take care of our bodies, come back tomorrow and give it another try."