Kayla Kievits, Cougars Athletics.
CALGARY - Eager spirits and loud fans helped to kick off the Cougars final weekend of play at home. The Cougars took on their closest rivals the University of Calgary Dinos, but found themselves lacking the home-court advantage as the Dinos swept the match. The final scores were 25-21, 25-20 and 25-22
The Booster Juice Players of the Game from the Dinos, Kate Pexman, and from the Cougars Dholi Thokbuom. Pexman led her team in attacks with a total of 13 kills as well as a perfect serving record. The Dinos racked up a total of 13 team blocks and a final serve percentage of 0.863 Cougars top attacker was also the player of the game Thokbuom with a total of 11. Total team blocks were seven, and a final serve percentage of 0.892.
As the battle of Calgary kicked off both teams started hot, looking to impress the hometown crowd. The teams went point-for-point, each working hard on both offence and defense. The Cougars had a strong presence at the net, which had been missing from the previous home games specifically in last weeks match against the Spartans. After the tight game started to fall in favour of the Dinos the Cougars called their first timeout, 10-14. The Dinos pushed through the next two points and were the first to reach 16 initiating the first technical timeout. With no sign of stopping the run, the Dinos were on, the Cougars called their second timeout of the set now down 10-19. After a timeout and two substitutions, the Cougars gained back a rhythm. The Cougars utilized their defense both back of the court and at the net to quickly close the nine-point lead to a five-point lead. When the score hit 15-20 the Dinos called their first timeout looking to regroup. The Cougars fought hard to close in on the lead, but ultimately the Dinos took the set with a kill from Beth Vinnell 25-21.
Rolling on their momentum from the first set win the Dinos were off to an early lead. Quickly finding themselves down by five points 1-6, the Cougars called an early timeout. A successful timeout for the Cougars allowed them to regroup and slowly start to regain ground on the Dinos. Despite closing the gap, it didn't take long for the Dinos to take back their lead entering the technical timeout 16-11. The Cougars used the technical timeout as a time to recollect and come back to the court with their game faces on. Immediately earning the next four points and nearly tying the score they forced the Dinos to call their first timeout. The Dinos didn't take long to regain their lead, and the Cougars called another timeout now behind 18-22 in hopes of getting back in the set. A strategic dump from the Dinos helped them earn their second win 25-20 putting them up two sets to none.
The third set started similar to the first going point-for-point between the two teams. The rallies were long and action packed as both teams brought the heat on their blocking as well as their attacks. For the first time in the match, the Cougars found themselves in the lead as they inched ahead 12-10. Despite the small lead the points continued to fall back and forth and it was the Dinos to be the first to reach 16, only ahead by one-point. The Dinos track record of timeouts ending in their favour continued and they once again started to extend their lead. Now down by four, 18-22 the Cougars called a quick timeout. The Cougars were unable to stop the Dinos and they finished the set 25-22 ending the match.
Cougars Annelise Hielema said, "I think the thing our team has improved on most over the season has been blocking. Tonight didn't show our full potential, but it has definitely gotten a lot better, even the block defense relationship has improved."
With one final match to be played on Kenyon Court tomorrow night, the Cougars are hungry to end on a high note. Tune in tomorrow Feb. 8, 2019 at 5 p.m. for the second match of Cougars vs. Dinos.