EDMONTON – Motivation feeding into confidence is a big factor in volleyball.
The Alberta Pandas had that combination working as they answered a 3-1 Friday loss with a 3-0 Saturday win over cross-town rival MacEwan, salvaging a weekend split in Canada West women's volleyball action.
"It's finding the right place to be to compete," said Alberta head coach Laurie Eisler. "I think we were fighting that last night. It's harder to find it in a match. It's better to bring it from the start and hold onto it. I think our team did a really good job and, frankly, it's a little easier to do coming off a loss.
"It doesn't sit well, and it left a mark on us last night, so I was really happy with our team," she continued. "Individuals just responded really well."
MacEwan saw an opportunity for its 11th win in their past 12 matches evaporate as they spent most of Saturday's match off kilter.
"They just served us off the court," said Griffins head coach Ken Briggs. "Just aggressive serving and we were out of system the whole night. They were much better. They passed better, which meant they were in system and got way more swings. I thought defensively, we were still OK. We were never in it because we didn't pass."
With the result, Alberta improves to 10-6 in the standings, while MacEwan falls to 12-6 – meaning the weekend series didn't decide anything when it comes to home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. The Edmonton rivals will continue to jockey with each other, Thompson Rivers and Saskatchewan in a battle for the third and fourth seeds behind front-runners Trinity Western and Mount Royal University.
A weekend split is pretty much the expected result between MacEwan and Alberta, who had traded five-set wins over each other in exhibition action earlier this season.
"I don't like the 3-0, though," noted Briggs. "I thought we battled for times, but it wears after a while when you don't pass the ball, and then you start second-guessing yourself. I'm not disappointed. They pushed, they fought. In those two facets of the game, we just weren't good enough.
"Credit to them, they came out, made some changes and did a good job," he added. "That's what's expected in this (rivalry)."
Haley Gilfillan led the Griffins with nine kills, while four players hit double digits in digs (Carly Weber, Kylie Schubert, Rachel Jorvina and Lauren Holmes) on a strong 74-dig defensive effort for the Griffins.
Alberta could also point to a strong defensive game as they kept alive multiple points with 71 digs of their own – 20 by libero Jenae Eisler, 18 from Julia Zonneveld and 14 from Erin Corbett.
"I think any time you play a team a second time, you just know them a little bit better," said Eisler. "You get better reads on them as individuals. When you're feeling good and you're in a good mindset, it's easier to cover space."
Pandas' kills leader Kory White drove the bus to the win, though, as she just kept swinging – attempting 44 attacks and landing a match-high 14 of them.
"Kory was Kory tonight," said Eisler. "She was flying. When she's flying like that, she hits angles … I'm happy she's on our team, I'll put it that way."
Alberta next hosts Manitoba on Jan. 24-25, while MacEwan will visit Winnipeg on those same nights.