Jefferson Hagen, MacEwan Athletics
EDMONTON – If their home-opening weekend is any indication, the MacEwan Griffins women's volleyball team has discovered a killer instinct that was missing a week ago when they lost a 2-0 lead and suffered a five-set heartbreaker to Mount Royal University.
In the comfortable confines of the David Atkinson Gym, MacEwan went up 2-0 in back-to-back matches against the Regina Cougars and closed both of them out easily, including on Saturday when their latest straight-sets victory ended 25-19, 25-17, 25-18.
It was a romp to complete a weekend sweep of the Cougars and push MacEwan back to .500 in the Canada West standings at 2-2. Regina is now 1-3.
"It's nice because throughout preseason we've struggled when we've gone up two sets," noted MacEwan middle Haley Gilfillan, who had a monster three-set stat-line, leading the Griffins with six kills on .462 efficiency, six service aces and eight blocks. "Even last weekend against Mount Royal we were up two sets and had a tough loss in five, so it's nice we were able to close it out in three both nights.
"I felt like we definitely stepped it up in the third set, as well – definitely a great sign moving forward for the rest of the season."
"I thought today was way more of a serving contest" said MacEwan head coach Ken Briggs, whose team had 10 aces and 13 serving errors, while Regina went three and 12, respectively. "Lots of missed serves on both sides and lots of little ace runs. We did a lot of good things. That's a big block we're playing against. Credit to them. They still took it away if we weren't running our offence very well."
Regina got nine kills from Britt Davis and eight from Jessica Lerminiaux, while Sierra Parris-Kruger had a game-high 16 digs. They were, however, wrecked by a team hitting percentage of .019.
"I don't think we executed," said head coach Melanie Sanford. "I think there were moments when we did, but there's just not enough of them in a row right now. I think MacEwan played quite well tonight and dug a lot of good balls."
The Griffins took control of the first set early, opening on a 9-3 run and never looked back, while solid runs in the middle of both the second and third sets were the difference.
"That's what good teams do," said Sanford. "They crank it up and they go on a run. Right now, we're two steps forward, one step back. That's kind of where we're at with this group."
While Regina heads into a bye weekend before hosting Manitoba on Nov. 8, the Griffins are off to Langley, B.C. for matches against Trinity Western Nov. 1-2.
"To be honest, the next two weekends are big for us," said Briggs. "At least this gets us back on an even playing field. Now we go into the hornet's nest and then come out and get a chance to regroup. It's almost the same team we're going to next weekend, so we're excited about the opportunity."