By: Kate Ellis

Members of the Thunder women’s volleyball team look on as Amanda Lepage sets up a play. The Thunder lost the game in the final set.

Tension filled the gym at Algonquin’s women’s volleyball game on Nov. 21 as the Thunder were faced with a must-win fifth set against the La Cité Coyotes.

The teams split the first four sets with Algonquin taking the first two and La Cité taking the second two.

The fifth set was tied 13-13 when Algonquin called a time-out. Whoever won this set would win the game. Play was resumed and soon it was over. When La Cité won 15-13, Thunder head coach Everton Senior showed some frustration, even breaking a chair.

“I think I broke my toe on the chair,” said Senior, who chuckled at the moment. “I didn’t feel very good at all. Three different times we had a two or three point lead in the fifth set, only to come back and make a silly mistake and basically give them the match.”

After the first two sets, it seemed the team was destined for a victory against their cross-town rivals.
They seemed confident in their ability when heading into the third set but lost their momentum. This cost them not only the set but, in the end, the match as well.

“I think in the first two sets [our communication] was awesome,” said setter, Jena Armishaw. “As [La Cité] got louder our communication started going down because we got scared and I think a lot of people lost their focus because of it. Once you lose it, then it’s hard to get back into it.”

Communication was good in the first two sets – when the Thunder were at their best. Somewhere in the break between the second and third set, however, something changed.

“The first two sets we played well,” said Senior. “We were communicating fairly well and then we just thought we were the best team in the world and we could just win at will. That’s when everything fell apart.”

The Thunder held a 4-2 lead early in the third set, but an eight-point run by the Coyotes put them in the lead, shifting the momentum in their favour.

“I could see it unraveling midway through the third set when we were kind of going through the motions,” said Senior. ”[We were] making plays that were a little uncharacteristic and it just became a matter of us not wanting to win, but trying not to lose.”

La Cité continued their success with some streaky play throughout the third set, stopping any potential Thunder momentum. The Coyotes won the set 25-15 and took their momentum into fourth set with their consistent play, winning 25-21.

“I think we might have gotten a little too confident in ourselves,” said middle, Alix Burkart. “We took the pressure off that we kept on them for the first two [sets].

“We thought we could kind of coast through because we knew that we could beat them; that it was very possible. We let off too much pressure and let them get the best of us.”