4-time defending champions, the Mount Saint Vincent Mystics, met rivals Holland College Hurricanes at the G Forbes Elliot Athletic Centre on Sunday for the championship match in women’s ACAA volleyball.
On the line for Holland College wasn’t just the prospect of a win, but redemption from last years final where MSVU took the match in 4 sets.
#7, Sydney Foy, was the first to point for Holland College during set one of the final match-up.
The Hurricanes took an early lead, but the Mystics improved their play to catch up, keeping play tied.
Throughout the set, fans were treated to impressive rallies, including a huge rebound play by Holland College that kept the ball alive for the team from the far backcourt.
After a time out call in the first set, the Mystics appeared to pick up steam, taking a slight lead over the Hurricanes.
Final score of the first set, 30-28 for the Hurricanes in what was an intense battle for both teams.
#8 of the Mystics, Christina Day, did a lot to keep her team alive in the second set of the match, while their libero, #5 Meghan van der Heyden, struggled a bit with handling some of the power plays dropped down by the Hurricanes.
Mount Saint Vincent was able to steal the lead late in the second set that gave them a win, 25-19 and tied up the match 1-1 for the two top seed teams.
During the third set, up by two, an error in communication had a Hurricanes player approach the line for a substitution which coach Lori Beth Dwyer ultimately called off, but received a yellow card for delay of game.
The set then became what fans had been treated to in the first 2 sets, a back and forth, point for point battle on the court.
The final kill for the third set win came from Day of the Mystics and gave the reigning champs the advantage 2 sets to 1.
The third set had the Hurricanes in a tough defensive position, and the Mystics came on with the pressure gaining a lead of 5 points early on in the set.
Not ready to let the set go, the Hurricanes rallied and picked up several points, bringing themselves within two points of the Mystics, 15-13.
The Hurricanes forced a timeout call at a tie of 23 points, as frustration mounted for the Mystics and the momentum shifted.
With a score of 24-23 in favour of the Hurricanes, #12 of the Mystics, Kendra Dawkins, finished the set with a big kill and forced a fifth set.
The fifth set started with two big kills from the Mystics that gave them the lead 2-0.
The Mystics took the lead, and was first to put 8 points on the board before both teams swapped sides of the court.
The fifth set ended in a nail-biter for fans with a score of 15-11 and the Mystics taking the victory.
Dwyer believes the team is ready for the nationals, but feels that the team needs to work on errors.
“Our problem that game is that we had to many unforced errors,” says Dwyer. “So we need to make sure we’re focusing on our side of the net and cutting down on errors.”
“I think we’re ready to compete, we have some things to work on but we’ll be ready.”
Coach of the Mystics, Derrick Brooks, feels the same about his team.
“Ya, I think we’re ready, this is a really special group,” says Brooks.
It didn’t surprise Brooks that Holland College took them five sets.
“[When] we played them at home in our gym the last game, they took us five sets.”
“It was actually 16-14 so, we knew we were going to be in for a battle,” Brooks said.
Leading up to nationals, the coach says his team needs to focus.
“We’re going to back to the drawing board, look at the defensive a little bit,” says Brooks.
“Hopefully we can establish a lot more one on one situations and try to play well for our conference.”
The Mystics #8, Christina Day, was emotional and had an exceptional game and is ready to go to nationals.
“This is one of the greatest feelings,” says Day. “This is my fourth time, but it’s different every time.”
“This time going into the nationals I feel ready.”
Players of the match were awarded to # 1, Gracie Ferguson of the Hurricanes and #8, Christina Day of the Mystics.
Both the Mystics and the Hurricanes will advance to the national championships, which are being hosted this year in Charlottetown by the Holland College Hurricanes.