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Huskies outside hitter Nada Hamdy celebrates with her teammates during Saint Mary's 3-1 win over the Dalhousie Tigers on Feb. 27, 2022.
Huskies outside hitter Nada Hamdy celebrates with her teammates during Saint Mary's 3-1 win over the Dalhousie Tigers on Feb. 27, 2022.

Huskies outlast Tigers 3-1 in exciting match between crosstown rivals

HALIFAX, N.S. – The Saint Mary's Huskies volleyball team snapped a four match losing streak with a huge 3-1 win over their crosstown rivals, the U SPORTS #6 ranked Dalhousie Tigers, on Sunday afternoon at the Homburg Centre.

Saint Mary's came into the match with an 8-4 record, but had lost four consecutive matches after starting the season a perfect 8-0, with the most recent loss occurring just 24 hours earlier as the Acadia Axewomen had a come-from-behind 3-2 win. The Tigers entered Sunday's match with a 6-4 record, and had also lost their most recent game to the Axewomen, 3-2 on Friday night.

It was Seniors' Day for the Huskies, as five graduating senior players - Mariama Syll, Renee Cleveland, Anica Jestratijevic, Jakobie Friesen and Bethany Smith - took to the Homburg Centre court for their final regular season home game.

The first set was as tight as it gets, as the two crosstown rivals went back and forth, with neither leading team leading by more than two points until the very end of the set. A kill by the Tigers Kathleen Fougere tied the set at 22, but the Huskies came out and won the next three points, with a powerful kill from first year Nada Hamdy (Cairo, Egypt) securing the 25-22 first set win. Hamdy led the way with six first set kills, while setter Jakobie Friesen (Barrie, ON), battling through a back injury, had a tremendous first set with 11 assists and three digs.

The Huskies momentum continued into the second set, as a four serve run by Hamdy gave them an early 9-6 lead. The Tigers were able to claw back and a Julie Moore cut the lead to 17-15, but the Huskies went on another run, and a service ace from Megan Bruhm (Hubley, NS) extended the lead to 22-15, with the Huskies going on to win the set 25-18 to take a 2-0 lead.

AUS Volleyball fans know that coach Rick Scott's Tigers never go down without a fight, and as expected, his team was ready to respond in the third set. A Brett Bolden service ace pushed the Tigers lead to 13-7, and a Talia Vydykhan kill gave Dalhousie a 16-11 lead at the technical timeout. The Huskies cut into the lead, with a Hamdy kill cutting it to 22-18, but three straight Tigers points, capped off by a Vydykhan block gave Dalhousie a 25-18 third set win, and cut the Huskies lead to 2-1.

It was a dangerous position for the Huskies, who had lost each of their previous three games in five sets, and it was clear the Huskies wanted to finish this match in four sets. A big crosscourt kill from AUS All-Star outside hitter Olivia Bell (LaHave, NS) put the Huskies up 8-3 early. After a Tigers timeout, middle Ella Hornby went on a run, with three kills helping to cut the Huskies lead to 11-10. When the Huskies regained service, they went on a run of their own, as a Bell ace and Mariama Syll (Charters Settlement, NB) kill highlighted a four point streak to extend the lead to 15-10.

The game of runs continued, and the Tigers eventually tied it up at 19-19. Back-to-back blocks from Bruhm and Syll, followed by an ace from Bell put the Huskies up 24-20 and serving match point. Julie Moore and the Tigers kept on battling and cut the lead to 24-23, but a big kill from Bruhm finally finished off the Tigers, and won the set 25-23, securing the 3-1 victory for the Huskies.

Huskies middle Mariama Syll was named Subway player of the game with six kills and three blocks in her final regular season home game. Olivia Bell was tremendous for the second straight match, leading the Huskies with 11 kills, 24 digs, and 5 service aces, and Jakobie Friesen battled through a bad back on her way to 39 assists, adding to her AUS leading 450 assists on the season.

The Tigers were led by Julie Moore, who posted a game-high 13 kills, and middle Grace Calnan who had 5.5 total blocks.

With their first win of 2022, the Huskies improve to 9-4, heading into the final weekend of the regular season. Saint Mary's will hit the road next week to take on the Acadia Axewomen on Wednesday night, before finishing their schedule by visiting the Moncton Aigles Bleus on Sunday.

The Tigers second straight loss dropped their record to 6-5 on the season. Dalhousie will travel to Newfoundland to take on the Memorial Sea-Hawks for three games next weekend.

Recap by Allan April / SMU Huskies Athletics

Photos by Nick Pearce / SMU Huskies Athletics