Match Point: Bronze
Women capture their second bronze in three years
An amazing run for the women's volleyball team fell two colours shy as the Spartans settled for a bronze medal win against the Ottawa Gee-Gees. It was another heartbreaking loss against the UBC Thunderbirds that did not give TWU the ticket into the finals. As disappointing as it was, the Spartans were able to return home with a medal around their neck, something that they were not able to accomplish last year.
The Spartans ran into a brick wall named the UBC Thunderbirds on Friday as they suffered a 3-1 defeat from a very good volleyball squad, sending them to the bronze medal match. The Spartans had already suffered the Canada West final loss against UBC and were looking for a way to redeem themselves from that sting of a loss. With a 1-1 record against UBC during the regular season, the Spartans knew they were able to pull a win out of a hat. Unfortunately, the Thunderbirds proved why they have a 0.955 winning percentage and performed their guts out, while the Spartans were not able to utilize their momentum swings.
The Spartans started well as they completed the first set with a 25-22 win, giving all the momentum they needed. They were not able to translate that momentum to performance in the second set, as they went down hard losing 25-14. This was the turning point of the match as all of the momentum went to UBC, practically costing the Spartans the match. The Spartans looked very uneasy from the beginning of the second set as if they weren't all on the same page. Their passing was off and their attacks were defended easily or caused an error. They fell defensively which allowed the Thunderbirds to win by a huge gap with only five kills. The Spartans showed more effort in the third and final sets, showing UBC that they weren't going to get passed them so easy. But the outstanding offense and defense of the Thunderbirds were simply too much for the Spartans, losing those sets 20-25 and 23-25.
The Spartans could have done better in this match and there were opportunities to capitalize towards a win. But we must give credit where credit is due, as the UBC Thunderbirds had a monster season and won a well deserved gold medal. Leading UBC were Lisa Barclay, who was named tournament MVP and Shanice Marcelle, who was named MVP of the year. These two players were the reason why UBC has done so well in their women's volleyball department.
The bronze medal match for the Spartans was a whole different story for the Spartans as they steamrolled the Ottawa Gee-Gees for a 3-0 win to claim the bronze medal. The Spartans outplayed the Gee-Gees on all fronts of the match. With a total of 40 kills in three sets versus Ottawa's 17 kills, the Spartans doubled what the Gee-Gees had to offer offensively. The Spartans hit an outstanding .407 and completed the match with 25-18, 25-20, and 25-13 set victories.
“I’m really proud of the team to rise up after a tough loss yesterday,” said Spartans coach Ryan Hofer, “I believe it takes a ton of character to come back after you’ve been blocked from reaching your goal and go back out there in search of something that’s not quite what you wanted. But a bronze is a great achievement for the school and it’s something the girls should be proud of."
A team who performs their best at all costs deserves a lot of credit, and the Spartans are that team. With the Spartans performing this hard after a devastating loss, it was just amazing. Although it was disappointing, they simply did not let it get away of their next game. The Spartans were led by setter Kelci French who had a whopping 32 assists against Ottawa along with Amber Brown, Amy Ott and Nicole Bazin who each contributed eight kills in the final match. The whole team contributed well both defensively and offensively, which is the key to the success the Spartans have had this season.
In a nutshell, the Spartans had a fabulous regular season. We're talking 19 wins and just three losses, a big improvement from last season's 13-7 record. The three losses came from three very tough opponents consisting of UBC, Alberta, and UBC Okanagan who are all in the top four including the Spartans. Out of the 19 wins, The Spartans won 3-0 eleven times, dominating their opponents. There is no doubt that the Spartans are an excellent team. In fact, their team play is beyond greater than any other team in the CIS. The Spartans do not look to a single player on their team to lead them offensively throughout the game, rather, they contribute almost equally on the stat sheets. The future is bright in TWU's women's volleyball department, allowing next year to be equally as exciting as the run has been this year. The bronze medal is a great achievement and it is well deserved. Congratulations to the women's volleyball team!