January 23, 2007
Cougars scratch out pair of wins in Wolves den last weekend
By JEFF KORENKO
Daily Herald-Tribune sportswriter
Grande Prairie Regional College's volleyball teams got mauled on their home turf by the Mount Royal College Cougars on the weekend.
Both the men's and women's squads were sent packing in straight sets Saturday after having lost in four sets Friday night.
The Wolves women were felled 25-10, 25-19, 25-20 in a match in which they didn't lead at any juncture until early in the third set.
After being taken to four games the previous evening - losing the first set and requiring a 29-27 win in the second to take control - the Cougars came out Saturday afternoon and dominated at the net early to set the tone and coasted their way to improving their Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference record to a Blue Division-best record of 16-2.
"After Friday night's first couple of games, they had a lot to prove (Saturday) and they came out a lot more prepared and focused," Cougars coach Sandra Lamb said of her team's performance Saturday.
"I think we did what we set out to do. We didn't change a lot technically, we changed our mindset. We know Grande Prairie is always good in their gym and they are going to be digging a helluva lot of balls. We weren't prepared for that (Friday), so, it was just a better mindset in terms of 'the ball is coming back at us, so what are we going to do?' "
What the Cougars did was jump out to a 6-0 lead, spearheaded by Carmen Dyck's precise serving.
With the Cougars blocking pretty much everything Grande Prairie could muster at the net, the Wolves changed their attack throughout the course of the game, freeing up Kacey Bowman for hits from farther back and swinging middle Kristen Roberts for attacks off the right side, but it wasn't nearly enough, as the Cougars, who out-killed the Wolves 33-22 overall, were paced offensively by Dyck's 17 put-aways. Former Wolves MVP Ashley Davis-Pajor also finished in double digits on the attack, with 10.
Bowman led the Wolves' attack with 10 kills, while Erinn Brady finished with five, Roberts connected for four and Kim Wayland had three.
While the Cougars moved into a first-place tie with the Grant MacEwan Griffins (16-2), the Wolves dropped to 8-12 with their seventh consecutive loss. They remain in fourth place, six points up on the fifth place King's University College Eagles.
"I was pleased with our performance every now and then (Friday)," said Wolves women's head coach Grace Scott. "(Saturday) I think Mount Royal showed up a little more and they were putting us on the defensive and we were having to scramble for a lot of balls.
"We just weren't finishing. In the front row, with our blocking we were getting touches on (the ball) but we were not able to put the ball away when we had those chances.
"On defence we were in the right positions, but not getting the ball up in a way where we were able to turn it into offence.
"There were definitely some good things we can take away from this weekend. Mount Royal is a good team. We know we can compete with them and we are just looking forward to having that opportunity come playoff time," Scott said.
"We also know we have some things we want to keep working on and working towards."
Friday night, in losing 27-25, 27-29, 18-25, 15-25, the Wolves were out-attacked by the slimmest of margins, at 47-46.
Brady led the way with 19 kills, while Bowman had 12 and Roberts nine.
Davis-Pajor was the offensive sparkplug for the Cougars with 17 kills, while Sarah Watson contributed nine and Dyck had seven.
To keep things in perspective somewhat, both GPRC teams resumed their ACAC schedules after the Christmas holidays by taking on the upper echelon-teams in what is known as their "power pools" or Blue Divisions.
The stretch has consisted of pairs of matches on the road against perennial powerhouses Grant MacEwan, Red Deer and this past weekend, the Cougars.
After splitting their pair of matches against the Griffins and getting swept by the Kings in Red Deer, the Wolves men now find themselves in the throes of a four-match losing slide after Saturday's 19-25, 22-25, 22-25 loss.
After taking the first set, the Cougars began to pull away with the match in the second when the Wolves could not contain Allen Meek and Omar Langford at the net.
The duo finished with a total of 28 kills - Meek had 16 and Langford 12 - as the Cougars out-attacked the Wolves by the slim margin of 41-39.
"It was too many errors all the time. It is very disappointing," said men's head coach Loren Jacula. "We are still in sets and we are playing awful, if that is the bright side, I guess.
"It's very disappointing and it's back to work Monday, I guess," said Jacula.
Don MacNeill led the Wolves with 15 kills Saturday, while Elijah Muennich had eight.
Saturday's loss, following Friday's 3-1 (-25, 25-19, 26-28, 23-25) setback, left the Wolves' record at 10-10.
They are fourth in their Blue Division, while Mount Royal improved its third-place record to 12-6.
MacNeill's Saturday effort garnered him the college's athlete of the week honours.
"I think we made some progress this weekend, although we didn't perform (at a level) we would have liked to," said MacNeill. "I think with a couple of hard weeks of practices, provincials are looking good, still.
"We are just going to have to rep things in practice; untimely missed serves and that sort of thing, just have some pressure on us in practice and hopefully that will carry over into the games."