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UFV Sports Friday – Tough Elimination Loss for Women’s Volleyball

Fraser Valley – (UFV) WVB: Five set loss sets up bronze medal matchup for Cascades

Despite taking a 2-1 lead, the UFV Cascades were unable to close out the match, and the Manitoba Bisons came back to win in five sets (25-21, 21-25, 14-25, 25-19, 15-7) and close out the best of three series.
Manitoba now awaits the winner of UBC versus Alberta to determine who they play for the conference title. 
If the T-Birds win, they’ll travel to BC, and if the Pandas will, they’ll host the conference championship. The Cascades will play the loser of that series for bronze, and a shot at the third spot from CanWest at nationals.
The two sides combined for 160 digs in another gritty battle. 
A day after setting the three-set playoff digs record, Bisons libero Julia Arnold recorded another 27 on Friday, while five different Bisons had at least ten digs – including Ella Gray who had a career-high 17 – while Bisons Player of the Match Katreena Bentley had 40 assists. 
“In the third set, they served us off the floor. We struggled to get a side out,” said Bisons head coach Ken Bentley. 
“We were ahead in the second and they put the pressure with their serving on us. I just said it won’t last forever but you have to hang in there. You can bend just don’t break. I thought it in the fifth we did not bend. We stayed in a really good band width of not getting too high or too low.”
The Cascades got a game-high 17 kills from Gabrielle Attieh and 17 digs from libero Emily Matsui.
“We were very even with the Bisons. We came in knowing there was going to be a big atmosphere and lots of noise,” said Attieh.
“I think sometimes home court advantage can be something, but I believe in my team and I know we can perform, even under the highest of pressure and the loudest of environments. There were such glimpses of unrelenting teamwork, even if this weekend didn’t go the way we had hoped. I am fully trusting in my teammates and my coaches that we have the tools to come out next weekend and try it again.”
The story of the first set was service pressure and blocking. 
The two sides combined for 12 assisted blocks, led by three each from UFV’s Natalie Crews and Manitoba’s Eve Catojo. 
At the line, Gabrielle Attieh had two aces, and the Cascades had four overall, while Manitoba had three aces, led by middle Brenna Bedosky’s two. 
An Attieh ace gave UFV a 13-12 lead, but that was short-lived following a Bedosky block on a long rally, which gave the hosts back a one-score lead. 
A Catojo and Bentley assisted block off strong service pressure gave Manitoba a 19-16 lead, forcing a Cascades timeout, but once again serving played a factor, with Bedosky opening up a four-point lead with her second ace.
From there, team defence propelled the hosts to a 1-0 set lead. 
A sprawling Arnold dig led to an Andi Almonte off-speed kill for Manitoba’s 24th point. Almonte followed that up with a pass on the money to Bentley at the net, who went right back to her for the line shot kill, once again off-speed. 
Almonte had three kills after one, while Talia Attieh from UFV led all players with four. 
The Bisons took a 9-4 lead in the second, but UFV pushed back on the strength of five kills a piece from Attieh sisters Lauren and Gabrielle, who had consistent success from the left. 
A 5-0 run, including two kills each from the duo, plus a Mo Likness ace gave the Cascades a 13-11 lead and they didn’t trail for the rest of the second.
The Bisons stayed in the fight, closing a four-point Cascades lead to two at 22-20 thanks to an Almonte kill off hands on a double block from the left, while Catojo had two monster smashes from the middle, but UFV’s front row blocking and the presence of Lauren closed things out. 
Attieh went off hands on a line shot with the score 24-21 to level the match.
The Cascades went on another massive run in the third. Down 10-6, they scored ten points in a row with Lauren Attieh at the service line. 
During that span, she had two aces and an enormous dig from the back that led to a Gabrielle cross court kill from the left. Through two, UFV had ten aces compared to four for the hosts. 
Bedosky had two early kills and an assisted block for Manitoba, but a six-point lead opened up during Lauren’s service run, plus the lethal precision of Gabrielle on line shots helped the Cascades take a 2-1 lead. 
As has been the story all weekend, thrilling defensive displays led to key points on both sides in the fourth.
A sprawling dig from Matsui in the back row led to a Lauren Attieh cross court kill from the left, while Arnold kept multiple rallies going with one-handed digs. 
Her most important save came with the score 23-18 for Manitoba. 
Lauren blasted a shot into the back row, but Arnold dove like her life depended on it, leading to a cross-court smash from Uchechukwu, one of her team-leading 13 kills as the hosts took the game to five. 
Service pressure was the story of the fifth.
Bentley, Bedosky and Catojo all kept the visitors on their heels with their play from the back line, as Manitoba opened up a 4-0 lead. 
Errors kept UFV in the set early, but Bedosky’s serving was the story at the end, leading to multiple Catojo blocks, while Gray dug the ball relentlessly, including two sprawling passes that led to Catojo points as Manitoba won by eight to take the game.

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