Briercrest edges Red Deer in battle of ACAC Power-houses

Posted: November 4, 2016

The Briercrest volleyball team looked to improve on last year’s 4th place finish at the CCAA Nationals as they hosted the Red Deer Queens in an important contest. Last season, Briercrest captured the season series 3-1, and early in the 2016-17 campaign, the teams share top spot in the South Division.

The teams traded points through the early portion of set one, with Red Deer’s Miranda Dawe and Briercrest’s Adriana Dewar pacing the early action. Aces by Karina Peterson and Ashley Zacharias and clever attacks by Sam Zacharias gave Briercrest a 17-13 lead. Janae Rapley ripped off a string of aces and delivering several punishing kills from the weak side and back row as Briercrest cruised to a 25-18 win.

Even play marked the beginning of game two. Once again, Red Deer’s Miranda Dawe delivered an effective attack from the power side, while Briercrest veterans Janae Rapley and Sam Zacharias pounded the ball from both sides and stung a quartet of aces to give Briercrest a 10-7 lead. Crafty hitting by Red Deer and some Briercrest errors allowed the visitors to snatch an 18-14 lead. Kristy Kindrachuk made a miraculous dig while on her back and Janae Rapley finished the point to bring Briercrest close, but Miranda Dawe delivered the last blow to give the set to Red Deer, 25-23.

Aggressive serving by Adriana Dewar and Karina Peterson allowed Briercrest to race to a 7-2 advantage in the third set, and Ashley Zacharias effectively rotated her setting targets as Briercrest pushed the lead to 16-9, but stalwart Red Deer team defense and tough serving by Queen’s McKenna Olson allowed the visitors to claw their way back and grab a 22-21 lead. Again, miscues by Briercrest at crucial moments of the set allowed Red Deer to steal it, 25-22.

A combination of lucky defense and erratic offense by both teams made for a sloppy start to the fourth set, but Sam Zacharias asserted her savvy veteran leadership to stabilize the Briercrest attack. With Briercrest leading 16-15, Janae Rapley launched three rockets from the service line and Kristy Kindrachuk scored an impossible point while splayed out on her stomach to push the Briercrest lead to 20-17. The Queens stepped up their defense and tied the set at 22-22, but Sam Zacharias and Janae Rapley delivered the finishing attacks to ensure a 25-22 victory for the Clippers.

In the deciding set, Sam Zacharias brought the crowd to their feet by nearly decapitating a Red Deer defender. Briercrest showed some uncharacteristic nerves as the Queens raced to a brief 7-4 advantage, but Janae Rapley rifled a pair of hard spikes and Sam Zacharias matched her with two aces. Red Deer’s Miranda Dawe, who was a hitting force through the first four sets, made a pair of crucial errors. Karina Peterson delivered a kill in the middle before Janae Rapley ended the match with a sideline ace, giving Briercrest the set 15-12, and the match 3-2.

Briercrest’s Player of the Game was setter Ashley Zacharias, who recorded a match-high 43 assists to go along with six kills. Kristy Kindrachuk was spectacular on defense, collecting 21 digs, while Samantha Zacharias and Janae Rapley combined for 27 kills. Red Deer’s Miranda Dawe claimed POG honours with 19 kills and 7 digs.

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