ST. CATHARINES – In front of a sold-out crowd inside Bob Davis Gymnasium, the No. 3 nationally ranked Brock Badgers women’s volleyball team claimed their second consecutive OUA Quigley Cup Championship defeating the No. 6 Queen’s Gaels in an exciting five-set final on Saturday evening.
Set scores for the match were 24-26, 16-25, 25-23, 27-25, 15-13.
Leading the charge for the Badgers in the victory was fifth-year veteran middle Grace Pyatt who notched a team-high 22 points, delivering especially down the stretch for Brock in the come-from-behind victory. Pyatt tallied 17 kills on an impressive .517 attack percentage, alongside 10 block assists and four digs.
Meanwhile for the Gaels, Hannah Duchesneau led all players in the five-set contest registering 17 kills, one solo block, and nine block assists for a game-high 22.5 points.
“Queen’s are full of competitive women and we knew this was going to be a battle, we told ourselves to be ready to go to five sets and that is exactly what happened because they are very good,” mentioned Pyatt of her championship opponent. “I personally felt myself starting to go down that rabbit hole when things starting getting tough, but my teammates really rallied me and our coaches got right in our faces and told us what we had to do, and that always gets us a little bit pumped up, and it worked. I’m still in a bit of shock, it’s not often you see a reverse sweep in the OUA final and I am just on cloud nine right now.”
The path to the Quigley Cup title saw Brock finish atop the OUA with an 18-2 regular season record, before knocking off Windsor and York in the quarter-final and semi-final rounds. Queen’s entered the postseason as the 7th seed in the OUA after a tough stretch of five straight losses to conclude their regular season with an 11-9 record. However, the Gaels delivered stunning upsets over top contenders Western and Waterloo in playoff matchups to propel themselves into the championship final.
In a back-and-forth first set the two teams went into extra points as the Gaels kept step-for-step with the top seeded Badgers. Down the stretch it was Shea Baker making the difference for Queen’s as she combined a late set block and set-winning ace to put the Gaels up by one set early. Baker would finish the night with a game-high 54 assists, while adding one solo block, five block assists, one kill, and another ace to round out her stat line.
That momentum carried over into the second set for Queen’s where they were able to dominate at the net posting five total team blocks, while also limiting their mistakes to just three attack errors. The trio of Lauren Mellon, Mary Stewart, and Areille Palermo combined for nine total kills for the Gaels in the strong second set victory.
Midway through the third set the Badgers took back a lead behind several strong attacks from Sadie Dick on the right side, establishing a two-point gap 17-15 and forcing a Gaels timeout. Dick would go on to register 20 total points for the Badgers in the five-set win. Following the timeout break, it was Pyatt continuing the run for Brock with a key kill and block before Gigi Markotic substituted in late and delivered the set sealing kill to send the match into a fourth.
— Brock Badgers (@brockbadgers) March 12, 2023
Queen’s started strong in the fourth thanks to continued strong performances from Duscheneaus and Amanda Siksna, building a six point lead early. Siksna marked the fourth player to reach 20 points in the thrilling Quigley Cup final, finishing the evening with 20.5. Despite falling behind early in the fourth, Brock was able to regroup utilizing their middles Pyatt and Christina Jovetic to both tie the game back up and down the stretch deliver clutch set winning points to force a fifth.
In the fifth and final set the combo of setter Sara Rohr and Pyatt remained on fire, carrying the momentum built from the third and fourth sets to complete the come-from-behind effort. Rohr would record 46 total assists in the victory, while Pyatt delivered the game-winning point on a block in the middle to secure the championship banner.
— Brock Badgers (@brockbadgers) March 12, 2023
Defensively, Brock libero Aleiah Torres registered a game-high 20 digs, while Stewart led the Gaels with 11.
Badgers outside hitter Laurin Ainsworth was named player of the match, jumping into the contest from the bench and helping swing the momentum towards Brock late with several key digs and kills. Ainsworth finished the night with six kills, one block assist, and eight digs.
“It is amazing to win for a second year in a row, even getting to the game for a third year in a row is super hard, but we were able to get it done,” said Brock head coach and OUA coach of the year Steve Delaney. “We talked about this having to be a battle before the game and having to be prepared to go five-sets, so I am just happy we were prepared. Queen’s came out flying, they have been doing that the past few games, but I think the home crowd helped us and we were able to just keep believing and it made the difference.”
Brock now advances to the U SPORTS National Championship scheduled for March 17-18 in Vancouver at the University of British Columbia. The Badgers will attend for the second consecutive season and serve as the lone OUA representative at the Canadian championship event. Brock placed 6th overall at the national showcase last season. Further seeding and tournament information for the 2023 event will be disclosed in the coming days.
BADGERS AT A GLANCE
Overall Record: 28-2 (W-L)
Conference Record: 18-2
Next match: TBD @ U SPORTS National Championship – TBD – Vancouver, BC
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