GRANDE PRAIRIE, AL – Seeking to earn their second-ever national medal, the No. 3 Humber Hawks women's volleyball team faced off against the No. 2 Lakeland Rustlers in the CCAA National Championships bronze medal match Saturday evening, falling to the Rustlers in three straight sets (15-25, 20-25, 16-25).
The Hawks found themselves playing from behind early in the first set as the Rustlers grabbed a 6-2 lead. The Hawks brought themselves back within two points, but a five-point Rustlers rally put them in a deeper hole. Despite Celine Blanchette and Julia Watson taking the Hawks on a three-point run, the Rustlers kept rolling, using another five consecutive points to go up by ten late in the set. Though Breanna Golding would try to bring the Hawks back with a timely kill and a serving ace, the Rustlers struck back to take the first set 25-15.
Chasing a Rustlers lead early in the second, the Hawks rode Nicole Collard's serving and kills to pull back within one. A huge kill from Jasmine Lougheed tied the set before the Hawks took their first lead of the match. The lead would repeatedly change hands, with the Hawks going up 14-12 before four straight Rustlers points put the Hawks down on the scoreboard again. Both teams then traded points, with the Hawks unable to snatch the lead back, only keeping pace until another four-point Rustlers rally put an end to the second, the Hawks falling by a score of 25-20.
The Hawks offense that came alive in the second slowed at the start of the third, having trouble scoring off their own serves as the Rustlers gradually pulled ahead on the scoreboard. Kills from Golding and Brynne Spence-Coleman seemed to mark a momentum shift in the Hawks' favour, but the Rustlers scored three in a row to go up 14-8 partway into the set. While the Hawks would pull back within three points on the scoreboard at 17-14, the Rustlers took over, outscoring the Hawks 8-2 through the remainder of the third to claim victory 25-16, with the Hawks dropping the bronze medal match in three sets.
Spence-Coleman was named the Player of the Game for the Hawks for the second time in the tournament, scoring seven points (seven kills). Golding led the Hawks in points with nine (eight kills, one serving ace) and Collard had six (four kills, one serving ace, one block) and led the team in digs, with eight.
Rae Sigurdson, who had 39 assists and two points (one kill, one block) was named the Player of the Game for the Rustlers. Three Rustlers players finished with double-digit point totals, led by Shelby Becker, with 14 (14 kills).
With the loss, the Hawks' season officially comes to an end, finishing the national tournament in fourth place, improving on their eighth-place nationals finish last year. Lakeland finishes with the national bronze medal, after winning gold at last year's tournament.
Give the Hawks full credit for a marvelous effort at the 2018 national event, finishing the championship with a 2-2 record. Overall, Humber completed the provincial and national schedule with a record of 24-2.