(FREDERICTON, NB) The UNB Varsity Reds ended a frustrating season Saturday, dropping a 3-1 decision to the visiting Saint Mary's Huskies.
SMU won with scores of 20-25, 25-15, 25-20 and 25-23.
Kristina Adler(Brampton, ON) had a match-high 15 kills to lead the Huskies. She also had 34 digs. Erica Dowling(Lower Sackville, NS) chipped in with 23 digs and 10 kills.
The Huskies appeared to take control of the opening set, building a 10-6 lead before UNB called time out.
The move paid off for interim Varsity Reds head coach James Cress, as his side pulled even at 14-14, then went ahead. A late 4-0 run gave UNB a 23-18 lead on their way to the 25-20 win.
Saint Mary's used short runs to build and sustain their lead in the second set, winning 25-15.
The Huskies raced out to a 9-2 lead in the third set, before the Varsity Reds were able to take back a bit of control. UNB came as close as 16-10, but the Huskies kept pushing, winning 25-20.
UNB established a 10-7 lead early in the fourth set and appeared to have taken momentum from the Huskies.
Saint Mary's fought to stay in the set, getting some timely kills from fourth year middle Erin Smith(Moncton, NB) to tie the set 20-20.
Adler's 15th kill of the night was the final point as the Huskies took the fourth set 25-23, for the 3-1 victory.
"This match really mattered to us," said Smith. "This was kind of do or die for us, so everybody came into it focused, put a lot of work in in practice, and came in with the intention to win."
"I thought we stole the momentum in the third and took it through to the fourth," said Cress. "The difference was their best player(Smith) was able to step up and get it done a couple of times, a couple of key times."
With the win, the Huskies improve their record to 11-9 and will finish third in the Atlantic University Sport standings.
The Varsity Reds finish with a 3-17 record, and will not qualify for the AUS playoffs.
"It's certainly not what we had set out to do," said Joyce, who noted the VReds were largely a young and inexperienced group when the season began. "I really like how we came together at the end. The improvements we made and the development I saw in the team, every day at practice, and from game to game, is something I'm really proud of."
Joyce was one of three graduating players honoured in a brief post-match ceremony.
"It's pretty overwhelming," she said, with tears in her eyes. "The Varsity Reds have been such a big part of my life for four years and I can't imagine not playing every day, it's something that's going to be difficult to get used to, but I'm grateful for the time I've spent with the team, and these girls."
The Huskies will face Memorial in the first round of the AUS playoffs, while top-ranked Dal meets Moncton.