In a hotly-contested match on Saturday at UCCI, the Thundercats narrowly defeated Admiral Storm over three sets, 25-23, 24-26, 17-15. Volleyball fans were treated to a real cat-fight between the two female Division A teams, who fought long and hard rallies as every point was crucial in a game with such close scores.
In the first set, Storm began to develop a built up a tempo and a respectable 5-point lead on two occasions. The Thundercats were working with a new offensive line-up with Krista Jorch, Audrey Kwan and Emily Maley in power with Melanie McLaughlin now playing middle blocker. However, the Thundercats’ blocking, including exciting net play by the indomitable Samantha Cox, pulled the Thundercats from behind to take the first set.
With its crafty setter as its eye, Storm regrouped in the second set, battering the Thundercats with sneaky dinks and tip shots. The Thundercats defence though markedly improved, still suffered with several unforced errors. Coach Shervin Rankin also brought in Belinda Francis into a new role as Libero for the first time to allow the ‘Cats to capitalize on Francis’ solid passing and defensive skills. However, the ‘Cats were unable to push through the height of the Storm, which took the second set by the narrowest of margins 26-24, forcing a third and deciding set.
With the third set only scheduled to play to 15 points, both teams were determined not to give up any easy points, particularly in such a close game. The ‘Cats brought in Lori Spoltore at power and took an early one-point lead. Storm continued to play with gusto and answered the ‘Cats nearly point for point. With Melanie McLaughlin strong at the net and Audrey Kwan’s steady serving, the ‘Cats stayed ahead by a single point. At game point, Storm’s crescendo wavered just once more, causing a bad pass from front court to fall under the net. The Thundercats’ emerging victorious 17-15 in the final and decisive set.
Coach Shervin Rankin was ‘satisfied’ with the Thundercats’ play overall. However, Rankin still believes his newly formed team has not shown its full potential and promises that once the ‘Cats fine-tune their game, their play will be even more exciting.
The Thundercats will face Admiral Storm for the second time on Saturday 25 November 2006 at 5pm at UCCI.