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Tigers drop quarter-final 3-1 to Pandas

Photo courtesy of Connor Hood
Photo courtesy of Connor Hood

Source: Connor Hood

CALGARY – The seven-time U SPORTS Champion Alberta Pandas will play for a national medal, as they dispatched the six-seeded Dalhousie Tigers 3-1 (25-23, 23-25, 25-18, 25-15) in the national quarter-final on Friday afternoon.

The win sets up a semifinal clash with their Canada West rival in the Mount Royal Cougars, who the Pandas defeated in the CW Semifinal in Edmonton last week. 

Dalhousie will now play for 5th, and will take on the Brock Badgers tomorrow afternoon in a consolation semifinal.  

Kory White led the Pandas with 22 kills on 48 attempts, adding three digs. Julia Zonneveld added 12 kills, while rookie setter Justine Kolody scoring a game-high 51 assists. 

"They are a really strong defensive team, so the thing that was working for us was to keep putting the ball in play. We trusted our own defence, and knew we might not get it out our first try, but eventually we would," said White. 

Second team All-Canadian Julie Moore led the Tigers with 20 kills on 56 swings, with Kathleen Fougere adding 10. 

"I think we had a really good game plan coming in. We knew the Pandas are a really strong team, and I'm really proud of our performance," said Moore. "We played like we had nothing to lose, swinging at everything." 

The underdog Tigers opened their national championship with excellent play in the opening set, racing out to a 13-6 lead. Moore led the Tigers with seven kills in the opening set, facing a Pandas team who looked tight early. 

However, White, the 2022 U SPORTS Player of the Year, starting taking over later in the first. Her five kills restored some momentum for the third-seeded Pandas. 

Dalhousie looked to have the first set under wraps, however six straight points won, five of which on the Lauren Tremblay serve, secured a 25-23 opening set win for Alberta. 

The Tigers exacted some revenge in the second, earning a 25-23 set win of their own. Neither team led by more than 3 points for the entire set, in an incredibly thrilling back-and-forth 40 minutes. 

Moore added another five kills in the second, with Fougere adding three. 

"Once we figured out how to breath, that also really helped us. We started the match pretty nervous, and we felt tight with this being the first match of nationals. Once we got into a groove, and felt confident in ourselves and who we are, it showed in our play." 

The third set was much of the same, with the two sides seemingly even matched at every position. 

Neither team held a lead of more than three for a vast majority, before the Pandas pulled away at 19-15, eventually winning the set 25-18. 

Alberta was incredibly efficient in the third, scoring 16 kills on just 34 swings, with Dalhousie mustering eight on 26 attempts. 

That efficiency carried over into the fourth for the Pandas, who started the fourth with seven kills on 11 attempts. 

Alberta finished the fourth with another 16 kills on just 29 attempts, winning the match with a 25-15 fourth set win. 

The Pandas and Cougars will take to the court at 6:00 p.m. tomorrow night at the Jack Simpson Gymnasium, while the Tigers and Badgers will meet at 1:00 p.m. 

Mikasa Top Performers Presented by Nike Team 

Alberta: Kory White
Dalhousie: Julie Moore