In an intense series against their closest rival, the Medicine Hat College Rattlers aced the finale.
The Lethbridge Kodiaks watched Megan Nagy's serve hit the floor Sunday at the Snake Pit, ending the best-of-three series and sending the Rattlers through to the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference championships next weekend.
"It was just like the cherry on top," said Nagy, who topped the Rattlers with nine kills, 15 digs and four aces. "It would have been nice to win any way, but that was pretty awesome."
Set scores Sunday were 25-15, 25-20 and 25-15, perhaps a surprise after two five-set marathons Friday and Saturday.
The Rattlers opened with a win Friday on home court. On Saturday in Lethbridge, the Kodiaks lost two out of the first three sets, but rallied to win 3-2 (25-23, 24-26, 21-25, 28-26, 15-12).
"We played with a lot more confidence than we had before," Nagy said of Sunday's win. "That was a big difference. We fed off the crowd. It felt way better today."
The Kodiaks - with nine freshmen - played tougher than they had in the regular season, where they posted a 9-11 record to finish 10th overall in the ACAC. The Rattlers were seventh overall at 11-9.
But their inexperience was a factor in the end.
"So many of these girls have not been in this position before, and it showed," said Kodiaks head coach Derek Usman. "You could tell for us that we got really, really frustrated. We made some bad errors at key times.
"I have the possibility of bringing 10 players on this team back. I knew this year was going to be a learning experience.
"Next year is when we need to step up now. We've been in it. We know what it is all about, and we know what it takes."
Left side hitter Tianna Harland topped the Kodiaks with five kills on Sunday.
Besides Nagy's big game, the Rattlers also had balance offensively as middle Jordan Michie had eight kills and three blocks, while outside hitter Sage Fahlman had seven kills. Fahlman had a couple of key kills that helped put away the first set.
"She has done that all year long," coach Benj Heinrichs said of Nagy, who also had 28 kills in Saturday's loss. "She has had a phenomenal year. We know we can count on her.
"It is just real nice that she got some support today... If we keep that going, we are going to have seven or eight players ready to go."
The Rattlers open the ACAC tournament at Calgary's Mount Royal University Friday against the Grande Prairie Regional College Wolves, who finished second overall in the conference at 16-4.
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