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Pair of Tri-Cities-based athletes win bronze at U SPORTS nationals

Port Moody's Sophia Gaskell and Coquitlam volleyball product Aidan Palanca recently scored medals at Canada's highest level of university sport.

Two Tri-Cities athletes each won the last game of their 2022-23 seasons at Canada's top level of collegiate sports.

As a result, Sophia Gaskell and Aidan Palanca both brought back a bronze medal from last weekend's respective U SPORTS championships in women's hockey and men's volleyball.

Gaskell, a Port Moody Secondary graduate, recorded two goals and five points in three games at nationals for UBC, including an assist in the Thunderbirds' 3-2 third-place game victory over host Montreal.

It's the first U SPORTS medal of any colour for the second-year kinesiology student, who made quite an impression in Canada West action, as well.

Gaskell tallied 18 points in 28 regular-season games, finishing with the most shots on goals by a defender in the conference with 75.

She also tied for the most goals scored by a Canada West blue-liner (seven).

The Greater Vancouver Comets alumna also helped UBC to a 25-4-3-2 record and back-to-back conference banners in a 2-1 finals' series win over eventual national-champion Mount Royal Cougars.

Meanwhile, Palanca will remember his first season on the floor with McMaster University.

As a rookie, the Coquitlam Ducks Volleyball Club product rooted his team to a bronze medal at the U SPORTS championships in a 3-0 set sweep of Alberta in the final match.

Palanca is a libero for the Marauders, also currently studying kinesiology.

He played 15 sets in eight games in regular-season play in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) conference, helping the maroon and white finish with a record of 18-2.

This included a perfect 10-0 run at home.

The Marauders claimed the 2023 OUA title to get to nationals, winning nine of the 10 sets en route to gold at the conference playoff tournament.