SASKATOON – The 2017 Canada West and U SPORTS bronze medal-winning Trinity Western Spartans opened the 2017-18 Canada West women's volleyball season with a 3-2 (25-17, 21-25, 21-25, 25-12, 15-11) win over the University of Saskatchewan Huskies Friday night at the PAC.
In the fifth and deciding set, both teams traded points until setter Brie O'Reilly (Langley, B.C.) took over the service for the Spartans. O'Reilly served four straight points for her team to give the Spartas a 7-4 lead, forcing a Saskatchewan timeout.
The Huskies crawled back, narrowing the lead to 12-10 after an Emily Koshinsky kill. Koshinsky committed an attack error on the following serve, allowing Linda Damerau (Furthen, Germany) to deliver a clutch ace to take the Spartans one point away from stealing the win. Katelyn Devaney (Port Coquitlam, B.C.) sealed the deal thereafter, with her kill giving the Spartans the 15-11 victory in the deciding set.
Hilary Howe (Calgary) led the offence for the Spartans, recording 15 kills and six digs. Devaney also provided 14 kills for TWU.
For the Huskies, Regan Wiebe recorded 12 kills and 16 digs, while Carissa Noble chipped in with 10 kills and six digs of her own.
Trinity Western went on a 6-1 run halfway through first the set thanks in part to Kristin Anton's (Prince George, B.C.) powerful serves; forcing a Huskie timeout with the Spartan lead extended to five. Coming out of the timeout, the Huskies couldn't close the gap. Another 6-1 run with Anton providing the service was be too much for the Huskies to come back from. The Spartans took the first set, 25-17.
After falling behind 3-0 in the second set, the Huskies stormed back. A kill by Noble kick-started a 7-1 run for the dogs. The Huskie lead extended to as much as six before a 7-1 Spartan run gave them a one-point advantage at 18-17. Back-to-back kills from fifth-year Jenelle Sokoloski got the Huskies back on track down the stretch. Fellow fifth-year Marguerite Ferguson finished the set with a kill of her own to clinch the set for the Huskies, 25-21.
In the third set, the Huskies carried over their momentum from the second. A quick 4-0 lead grew to as many as eight thanks to kills from Noble, Sokoloski and Ferguson. After a Spartan misplay, the Huskie lead reached nine with just three points to take the set. The Spartans wouldn't make it easy on the home-team, as their 7-1 run closed the gap to three, 23-20. After a Huskie timeout, fifth-year Mackenzie Pek came through with timely sets for her teammates. Pek set up Sokoloski and Ruby Stefan for the final two kills of the set.
The Spartans needed to take the fourth set to force a fifth, and they came through. They wouldn't give up the lead during the set after building an early 9-3 cushion, taking the set 25-12.
Head Coach Ryan Hofer
"I'm really impressed with the team's composure. We came out strong, but then Saskatchewan started to rally and do a bunch of really good things on their side. We got down, but I was really impressed with the resilience of this group and to be patient. Brie did a really good job of leading this team and staying composed. Then her team did a really nice job of putting the ball away and making smart shots. Rachel Flink (13 digs) did a great job of managing the back court. We're learning as we go and there is a lot we can take out of this game."
The Spartans and Huskies face each other again Saturday. First serve is a 3 p.m. (PT).