Jorvina shatters Canada West single-match digs record as Griffins rally for epic 3-2 victory over Wesmen

Rachel Jorvina broke the Canada West record with 63 digs in an epic 3-2 win over Winnipeg on Saturday night (David Larkins photo).
Rachel Jorvina broke the Canada West record with 63 digs in an epic 3-2 win over Winnipeg on Saturday night (David Larkins photo).

Jefferson Hagen, MacEwan Athletics

-with files from Wesmen Athletics

WINNIPEG – At one point on Saturday night, Rachel Jorvina crashed through the MacEwan Griffins' bench and into the bottom of the bleachers.

But she still made the dig.

Displaying incredible quickness and dogged determination, the fourth-year libero had a match she and her teammates will never forget as she broke the Canada West record for most digs with 63 and led the Griffins to an epic comeback from two sets down to win 3-2 over the Winnipeg Wesmen.

"They must have counted every ball that she touched, but it was legit," said MacEwan head coach Ken Briggs of her eye-popping digs number that shattered the previous record of 39 set by Brandon's Caitlin Le in a match earlier this season. "She played unreal. It was a performance.

"Every person, that's all they could talk about how incredible she was and I'm talking about how incredible their whole team was. It was something to watch."

Winnipeg's libero Madison Fyvie also broke the previous record with a career-high 45 digs as the teams played such an epic match that it will go down as one for the ages. It ended 24-26, 20-25, 25-23, 25-22, 18-16 in favour of the Griffins, pushing them to 14-6 in the standings, while the Wesmen fall to 8-12.

The teams combined for a ridiculous 519 attacking attempts in the match, which shows how hard it was to get the ball on the floor. MacEwan's Lauren Holmes swung 80 times, while Winnipeg's Ashleigh Laube attempted 78, both of which eclipsed the mark for the conference season-high for attacks in a match. 

"Look at the attempt total for both teams," marveled Briggs. "It was hard to put the ball on the floor. We had girls just pounding the ball and it was dug up. Girls were diving everywhere.

"That was the best defensive team I've ever played against," he continued. "They played awesome. We were good, too, but we had to fight through it because everything was perfect for them for the first two sets. We were still very, very close and we kind of broke it in the third and won a set, and just built on the momentum. At no time did either team pull away. It was a good battle."

Holmes led the Griffins with 22 kills and accounted for 26.5 points to tie Cassidy Kinsella's program record for most in a Canada West match. Mckenna Stevenson added 15 kills and six blocks.

MacEwan blew a 24-21 lead in the opening set to lose 26-24 – a moment that could have defined the match. But in the end, it was overshadowed by the incredible finish. The Griffins not only rallied from two sets down, they came back from a 13-10 deficit in the fifth set and dodged two match points before closing it out on a Holmes kill.

"That doesn't happen very often," said Briggs of coming back from 2-0 down. "We had it happen to us – the first match of the year it happened to us. But that match (at Mount Royal), wasn't like this."

The thrill of winning a match like that is even sweeter for the Griffins since it came on the day they officially clinched the first Canada West playoff spot in program history. They woke up to see an X- next to their name in the standings.

"Obviously, everybody's pretty happy," said Briggs. "Once they saw that X- appear this morning, that's part of the conversation, but they truly believed they were going to be in no matter what.

"Now, what we're looking at is all the other games tonight and all the other teams won. We're just keeping pace by winning that five-setter. Now you're working for that home court," he continued. "The sweep against this team away from home is huge, especially when we're (on the road) back-to-back weekends. We've got some tired girls – emotionally and physically drained. We learned a lot. It was a great match."

It's the type of match that can make a team battle-tested for the playoffs.

"It's huge for us because we haven't had to scrap for every point," he said. "You don't get to do that very often in our conference – (teams) just pull away. But that was tooth and nail the whole game. That was the best thing that could have happened for us.

"Obviously, to win is special, but I was ready when it was 13 or 14 for them to say, 'hey, this has been phenomenal.' I found myself clapping for the amazing plays on both sides."