(HALIFAX, N.S.) - In the second semi-final matchup of the AUS Championships, the UNB Reds took on the Acadia Axewomen. After two hard-fought sets, the Reds were dominant in the third to come away with the 3-0 win to advance to the final.
In the tight matchup that it was predicted to be, the game got off to a tight start with the hitters trying to find their stride early. Instead it was the defensive play that led the way early with Maggie McLenahan (Ormocto, NB) and Regan Herrington (Georgina, ON) making great digs early.
The Reds were able to put together a run before the technical break, with Siobhan Fitzpatrick (Kelowna, BC) dropping in a service ace to force a timeout from the Axewomen. Fitzpatrick didn't cool down out of the break however, hammering home a kill on the next possession.
Hannah Helm (Halifax, NS) refused to let the lead get out of hand as she stepped up for a big block, followed by a hard swing for a kill and back to back points.
The Reds were able to hold a 16-9 advantage at the technical timeout.
The Axewomen were able to bring themselves back in it with some nice serving by Payten DeWolfe (Conquerall Mills, NS) and some big swings from Lucy Glen-Carter (Toronto, ON) and Lauryn Renzella (Stouffville, ON) to bring it within four.
Making a run of their own, the blockers for the Reds stepped up to make big plays, as well as getting some fortunate tips off of blockers on the other side for kills from Robyn Anderson (Fernie, BC) and Victoria Eadle (Gallagher Ridge, BC).
A great dump over from Herrington brought the Axewomen within three late in the set, but a tough serve from Eadle resulted in an ace and the 25-20 win in the opening set for the Reds.
Just as in the first, both teams were trading kills early, with DeWolfe and Renzella getting it done for the Axewomen, while Eadle led the attack for the Reds.
The lead changed hands many times early in the set, neither team able to gain an advantage till a great rally, highlighted by an incredible dig from DeWolfe to save the play, and eventually lead to the point for the Axewomen.
The Reds were able to regain their lead on another kill from Eadle however, and they took a 16-15 advantage into the technical timeout.
Late in the set, the Reds began to pull away with Eadle finding the lines on both sides of the court. After forcing a timeout, Eadle was able to drop in a service ace before Kristen Burns (Mississauga, ON) picked up a huge block.
On set point, a crafty dump from Paige Lehto (North Vancouver, BC) fooled the Axewomen, and the Reds took care of the second set with a 25-19 win.
The Reds continued their momentum at the start of the third set, getting some great serving from Burns to earn an ace, and help her team to a quick 4-0 lead.
looking to stop the run, the Axewomen got two huge kills off the hands of Renzella and Glen-Carter, but the deficit remained at 6.
The lead grew for the Reds before the technical timeout, with another big swing from Burns finding the back line as they took a commanding 11-3 lead to force an Axewomen timeout.
The Axewomen were able to put together a run before the break however, with a few missed swings from the Reds bringing the Axewomen back within possible striking distance, but still with lots of ground to make up.
With a service error from the Axewomen, the Reds took a 16-7 lead into the technical break.
Continuing to get big kills from Eadle and Siobhan Fitzpatrick (Kelowna, BC) in the middle, the set seemed to be getting away from the Axewomen at 22-13.
With one final rolling kill from Eadle, the Reds were able to take the win in the third set at 25-14 and come away with the straight-set victory to earn their place in the final.
The libero Maggie McLenahan (Oromocto, NB) was named the player of the game for the Reds in the win in a very strong defensive match.
The Reds will move on to face the host Dalhousie Tigers in the final Saturday at 4:00pm.
Recap Courtesy of Kirk Jessome