LANGLEY, B.C. – The No. 1-ranked Trinity Western men's volleyball team earned a 3-1 (25-23, 25-20, 23-25, 25-12) win over UBC Okanagan in the Spartans home-opener Friday at the Langley Events Centre.
Second-year Eric Loeppky (Steinbach, Man.) led the TWU offence with 13 kills to go with a match-high six aces and six digs. Pearson Eschenko (Banff, Alta.) had seven kills, three blocks and three aces from the middle. Setter Adam Schriemer (Winnipeg) had 32 assists while also nabbing five kills.
UBCO's Lars Bronemann led the Heat with eight kills, while Joshua Harvey had a team-high five blocks.
The win improves to the Spartans to 3-0 on the season, while UBCO drops to 0-3.
Neither team was particularly efficient with the Spartans hitting .194 and UBCO hitting .047. The Heat had a 9-8 edge in blocks.
After the Spartans took 9-7 lead in the first set, the Heat reeled off seven straight points, capped by a block from Max Heppell and Caleb Funk, to go ahead 14-9. TWU responded with four points of its own, sparked by a Ben Lieuwen (Abbotsford, B.C.) kill to get back in the set. From there it was back-and-forth until a Lieuwen kill launched another 4-0 run. A kill from Jacob Kern (Edmonton) finished the set for TWU. The Spartans hit just .062 while UBCO hit .045.
The Spartans took a 10-5 lead in the second set and were in control throughout. Loeppky had four kills in the set to lead TWU to a five-point win. The Spartans had four aces to UBCO's two, while collecting also four blocks to the Heat's three. A UBCO service error gave the Spartans the set. Both teams continued to struggle offensively, with TWU hitting .167 and UBCO hitting .158.
In the third set, TWU got off to another good start, opening a 5-1 lead after back-to-back kills from Eshenko. Then, it was Eshenko registering his third kill of the set to put the Spartans ahead 10-4. But the Heat responded, clawing back to even the set 17-17 before taking a 19-18 lead. A Bornemann ace put UBCO ahead by two at 21-19. Four straight points put TWU back ahead only to see the Heat tally four in a row themselves, capped by a Heppell kill to win the set and extend the match.
With TWU first-year outside Jesse Elser (Calgary) entering the fray in the fourth set, TWU took an 11-6 lead and rolled to a convincing win. With Loeppky putting up three aces in the set, the Spartans finished the task with a 13-point win. TWU, who improved its hitting percentage in each set, hit .345 in the fourth set, while holding UBCO to -.222.
Head Coach Ben Josephson
"I thought the game was sloppy offensively. But any time that happens, that's a product of tough serving and good block defence. It's clear their coach has his team understanding how to block. Our kids were really amped up. It was such an amazing start to the game, with the banner raising and all the students and the noise, and our kids were trying to put up a highlight on every swing. And our opponents did a great job playing stable and hanging around before they stung us in that third set. (UBCO) played great defence and made us pay for undisciplined play. I don't think we were very disciplined in our shot-making and that got exploited by a well-coached group. Thank goodness we served the ball as well as we did or that could have been a different night."
• TWU is 13-0 all-time against the Heat.
• The Spartans raised their Canada West and U SPORTS championship banners in a pregame ceremony.
• Including their preseason, the Spartans are 16-0 in 2017-18. Over that span, TWU has only lost seven sets.
• Dating back to last year's playoff run while also including this year's exhibition slate, TWU has won 26 consecutive matches.
• Friday's attendance was 730.
The teams meet again Saturday night at the LEC. First serve is at 7 p.m.