SCARBOROUGH, Ont. - The Sheridan Bruins women's volleyball team (20-9, 13-7 OCAA) advanced to the OCAA semi final for the first time since 1998, downing the regular season East Division champions from Loyalist 3-1.
"The first set we were pretty loose and aggressive and went after it, but for some reason we started the second set really tentative and I think that changed the match around," head coach Scott Hunt said. "I don't think in the second, third, or fourth we played our best volleyball, but we scrapped around and found a way to win."
In the opening set the Double Blue got hot from the service line and jumped out to an 11-6 lead on the strength of three aces. Loyalist managed to trim the gap late, but Taylor Ley closed out the opener 25-17 with an ace on set point.
Loyalist took command of the second set right away, leading 10-3, before Sheridan trimmed the margin to three (12-9) with three aces from Katelyn Long playing a huge role.
But the Bruins couldn't maintained that momentum and saw the set slip away, 25-16.
The narrative of the third and fourth sets were similar, with the Double Blue building small leads midway through the frame, only to see Loyalist apply pressure down the stretch.
They managed to close out both in nail-biting fashion though, earning the third 25-23 and the fourth 26-24.
Joelle Parnham was named player of the game for the Bruins, finishing one dig shy of a double-double with 36 assists and nine digs.
Tamia Cooper-Evelyn (12 kills, two aces) and Katelyn Long (six kills, five aces, three blocks) each scored a team-high 14 points, while Taylor Ley was also in double figures with 12 points (eight kills, four aces), and Sydney Romans posted a match-high 14 digs.
Sheridan will now square off against divisional foe Niagara - who rallied from down 2-0 to eliminate Fanshawe - in the semi final.
The Double Blue had their own rally from down 2-0 against Niagara last month which proved critical in giving them a home playoff date, and Hunt says they feel good about the match-up but also knows they need to up their level of execution.
"We split against Niagara earlier in the year, so I think we're confident that if we play well it's going to be a close match," he said. "They've had two really good comebacks the last two matches, so we know they're going to put up a good fight regardless of the score."