Kajan Thiruthanikasalam (Sports Writer, Colts Athletics)
SCARBOROUGH, ONT.- It looked like the Centennial Colts women's volleyball team had the Loyalist Lancers right where they wanted to, up two sets to love.
Centennial (1-2), though, could not finish the job as they fell in a gruelling five-set match (25-19, 25-15, 20-25, 25-18, 15-13) against Loyalist (5-0) at Athletic and Wellness Centre in the first of a four game homestand. The Lancers, along with the Algonquin Thunder and Humber Hawks, are the only teams that remain undefeated in the OCAA.
Loyalist outside hitter Sara Piana Yafu led all scorers with 20 points, including a game high 17 kills. Setter Lorraine Spellman had a game high 44 assists in the win.
For Centennial, two players scored in double digits. Outside hitter Mari Pikkov finished with a team hihg 18 points on 16 kills while outside hitter Elizabeth Chow had 13 on 10 kills and a game high three service aces.
Centennial was beaten by Loyalist in attack kills (47-42), assists (47-34), and service aces (11-7) despite outpacing them in blocks (5-4) and digs (63-50).
The first set saw the Colts start well as they took an 11-7 lead, which was capped off by a kill down the line from Chow. After Loyalist and Centennial each pulled off three straight points in succession, the Lancers pulled to within two at 15-13. However, Centennial pulled away for good in the set with a 5-0 run to take a 20-13.
Chow and outside hitter Heather Sanchez each had three kills in the set as Centennial took the first set, 25-19.
Centennial stunned Loyalist with an extermely fast start out of the gate in the second set as they pulled off nine straight points at one point to take a 12-2 lead, capped off by consecutive service aces from Chow and consecutive kills from Pikkov. The Colts took their largest lead of the set at 18-6 before the Lancers showed signs of life and cut the lead to eight.
However, the lead was too much to overcome for Loyalist as a kill from middle hitter Emily Joe ended the second set with Centennial taking it, 25-15.
Both teams exchanged the first 10 points of the third set before Loyalist scored three straight to take the lead. After Centennial cut the lead to 13-12, Loyalist pulled off four straight points, capped off by a Yafu kill, as Centennial was forced to call a timeout.
Loyalist still had a 20-16 when Centennial scored three straight points, capped by a kill from Chow, to cut the lead to one (20-19), which forced a Lancers timeout. The timeout worked wonders for the Lancers as they scored five of the last six points to take the third set, 25-20, and stay alive in the match.
Winning the third set seemed to spark the Lancers as they jumped out to a 12-4 run, with five straight points being scored from them at one point. Centennial recovered momentarily, scoring five in a row, but Loyalist later had a 4-0 run to extend the lead 18-10.
The Colts cut the lead to 20-15 but the Lancers pulled off four straight points once again and eventually took the fourth set, 25-18, which meant that there would be a fifth set to decide the match.
A service ace from Pikkov gave Centennial their first lead since early in the third set. But it did not last long as Pikkov's subsequent attack error sparked Loyalist to score six straight points to take a 7-2 lead. The Colts then scored three straight points but the Lancers extended the lead to 13-7, forcing the Colts to call a timeout.
The timeout inspired Centennial as the resilient Colts scored five points in a row, capped off by a crucial block from Sanchez. But Yafu dashed any hopes of a Colts comeback in the fifth set with her final two kills of the match (with a point from the Colts sandwiched in between) as Loyalist completed the comeback from two sets down, taking the fifth set, 15-13, and the match.
UP NEXT: Centennial continues its four game homestand as they begin the first of a back-to-back set at home on Saturday Nov. 18, against the La Cite Coyotes at 4:00 pm.