THUNDER BAY, ON – Sports – Lakehead Thunderwolves women’s volleyball team had a banner day of play, and earned a split in back-to-back games on Sunday (11am and 3pm).
The day began with a ceremony to honor the women’s 4th year seniors – Jen LaFrance, Vanessa Chorkawy, Sarah Reid, Jorie Daymond and Brittany Macleod.
The outcome of the day’s games is inconsequential for the T-Wolves’ standing in the OUA, as they sit in the 8th and final playoff spot, with Western and McMaster holding tie breakers over them. The Gee-Gees, however, drop to 2nd place in the OUA.
Game 1 Lakehead wins 3-1 (25-19, 25-23, 25-27, 25-23)
A smallish but lively crowd showed up for the 11am start, and the T-Wolves did not disappoint. Coming out firing on all cylinders, Lakehead had the Gee-Gees on their heels early in the first set, holding an 8 point lead. Ottawa would respond though, with fierce attacks from Karina Krueger-Schwanke, who finished with 20.5 points in the game (18 kills, 2.5 blocks). Kelsie English had 18 points (15 kills, 3 blocks) to go with 11 digs in Game 1.
As the second set developed, it was clear that Lakehead was showing confidence and execution the likes of which Thunderdome patrons haven’t seen in some time. Lakehead closed out the 2nd set thanks to some great serving from Jasmine Fox, among others, who had 1 service ace, 4 solo blocks and 5 kills for a total 10 points.
Lakehead very nearly swept the Gee-Gees in the 3rd set, as they battled swing for swing, dig for dig down the stretch, eventually having match point, leading 24-22. Ottawa’s veterans came up big, however, as they gutted out a 27-25 win to force a 4th set.
Jorie Daymond had an incredible day on the attack, with 45% of her 49 attacks resulting in a kill. She would add 13 digs to finish with 24 points – all kills. Vanessa Chorkawy finished with 15 kills, 2 solo bocks and 2 block assists for 18 points with 8 digs in Game 1.
The 4th set would be the defining one for Lakehead, as they were down 16-10 to a Gee-Gee team that played the proverbial dragon role, now having been awoken and very irate. The Gee-Gees would miss serve following the technical time-out, and Sara Hudson served an ace on the following play to rally Lakehead, eventually overtaking the Gee-Gees and securing the match victory.
Sara Hudson had 45 assists, 2 kills and a solo block against top Gee-Gee Karina Kreuder in clutch time to get Lakehead the win. Libero Breanne Hilhorst had 17 digs, playing brilliant defense on the back line and in the front court.
Gee-Gee’s setter Christina Grail made 43 assists.
Coach Chris Green said, “I am very proud of our team today. We weathered a tough storm in the first set and played well enough to come away with a 3-1 win. I know our young ladies were excited to play this game and they knew the day was going to be a tough one!”
“Two games against the number 4 ranked team in Canada…. I mean you knew today was going to be tough sledding”.
“The girls played smart, and they executed well. We felt Ottawa would do certain things based on their matches this year, and I feel we were able to control parts of the game. Daymond was amazing in this one and on this day. She is a leader, and as I said in recognition of her 4 years here at the beginning of the game, I will always be proud of her work ethic, her leadership and her personality. Sara Hudson was on top of her game as well. She put the hitters in a good place. Vanessa Chorkawy can be a strong shut down blocker, and I feel she displayed that well today against very good hitters. Ottawa is a very good deep team, we had to match that and for that I am proud of the focus.”
Game 2 Lakehead loses 3-1 (26-24, 20-25, 17-25, 18-25)
Following a 2 hour break in which both teams tried to stay loose and hydrated, action got under way once again. Word had travelled of the Game 1 victory and the fans in the stands doubled in number (~400).
Lakehead would give them something to cheer about in the first set, winning 26-24 as a stunned Ottawa team and coaching staff did their best to shake it off and get back to their style of play. They would do just that in the following three sets to close out the match, although Lakehead did rest some of their starters (Vanessa Chorkawy and Brittany MacLeod) in the last two sets, while the Gee-Gees kept their starting line on for the majority of the game.
Krueger-Schwanke led all players with a game-high 25 points (24 kills, 2 block assists). Gee-Gee setter Christina Grail made 34 assists in the win, while Myriam English broke out of her slump in game 1 to score 15 points (12 kills, 2 block solos, 2 block assists) in game 2.
For the ‘Wolves, Jorie Daymond led with 13.5 points and 13 digs while Breanne Hilhorst made 20 digs. Sara Hudson made 32 assists in the loss.
As a team Lakehead had 51 digs to Ottawa’s 36.
Coach Chris Green commented “The second game was just a tough recovery. To finish 9-9 on the season is a big accomplishment for this group. I wish they would have been able to dig deeper in this second game, but I can’t be more proud of their efforts to try and win a second game in 6 hours. Kudos to the girls for working through this unusual schedule”.
“We struggled to maintain focus after the first set. We just stopped focusing on our game plan and showed how tough it is to play 2 matches that close together. The girls worked hard and we will now focus on something new… the Playoffs. Congrats on the season to the team, and now to plan for a tough opponent in a new season.”