So far this season, the Lakehead Thunderwolves volleyball team has the ability to come out on top with a dramatic flair.
For the second straight night, Lakehead went down to the wire as the Thunderwolves held on to claim a five-set (20-25, 25-22, 25-23, 26-28, 15-11) decision over the Windsor Lancers in Ontario university volleyball at the CJ Sanders Fieldhouse on Saturday.
According to fifth-year senior Jorie Daymond, the players are able to handle the game being on the line as they start their OUA campaign 2-0 just one year after opening their season with six straight losses.
“We’re not afraid to swing away at those crucial moments, and we put the ball away,” Daymond said.
The left-power hitter was back to lead the charge in her second game of the campaign after severely injuring her knee at the end of last season.
Daymond finished with a team-high 15 kills in the contest, and also had the highest efficiency of all Lakehead players with a 40 per cent kill score.
She said her knee feels like it is back to normal.
“A couple of plays (Friday) I wondered if my knee was going to be okay, but on (Saturday) it felt like the other knee so it was good,” Daymond described. “I had total confidence in it.”
Thunderwolves head coach Chris Green said Daymond is nearly back to the level that makes her one of the most feared hitters in the conference after shaking off the rust in her season debut on Friday.
“We got longer out of her, and we got the Jorie we wanted,” Green explained.
“Her game energy is up, and that’s the neat thing about her. You can see (Friday) a little fatigue and maybe some emotion, adrenaline or nerves, and that wasn’t there (Saturday). She was ready to play.”
Just like Friday, left-side hitter Jennifer Casey stepped up in the final set and put the team on her hitting shoulder.
Once again Lakehead raced to an early lead in the condensed set, but this time the Lancers were able to fight their way back.
After misplaying a Windsor serve to give the Lancers a brief lead in the final set, Casey recorded kills on the next two points and sealed match point with a blast the defence was not able to handle.
Casey finished the match with 12 kills, and setter Sara Hudson guided the attack to the tune of a game-high 47 assists.
Despite losing in the fifth set a night earlier, Windsor got out to a strong start and took the first set from a Lakehead team that struggled to execute crisp passes.
The Thunderwolves evened the match by taking the second set, and then rallied in the third by winning six of the set’s final seven points.
Lakehead had match points in the fourth set, but with their backs against the wall Windsor was able to save them and extend the match into the final set.
While the team’s play may be far from perfect, Green is nevertheless happy to be sitting undefeated after the opening weekend.
“We didn’t play well but they fought through and did some good things. It’s one of those wins, they’re not pretty but you’ll take them,” Green said.
“These girls have a knack for never giving up. They’ve learned over the last three years. All those tough matches we lost. They have finally started to figure out how to do things when it counts.”
Next up for the squad is a trip to the provincial capital in two weeks to take on the Ryerson Rams and Toronto Varsity Blues.
The trip has a special significance for Daymond.
“I’m looking forward to going to Toronto on the road because it’s going to be my first time travelling this year,” she said
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