BRANDON, Manitoba – The No. 1 ranked Trinity Western Spartans dropped their first match of the season in five sets to the No. 7 Brandon Bobcats Friday night at the Healthy Living Centre in Brandon, Manitoba. The 15-25, 25-19, 23-25, 25-19 and 15-13 win improves the Bobcats to 6-1, while the loss drops TWU to 4-1.
Eric Loeppky with a match-high 17 kills, Jessie Elser with 16 kills and Jacob kern with 13 kills led the Spartans attack, while Seth Friesen, Matt Powell and Elliott Viles recorded 11 kills apiece for the Bobcats.
Trinity Western came out firing in the first. The Spartans scored six straight points to grab a 6-2 lead. Another quick string of five straight points saw Trinity Western run away with the opener.
The seventh-ranked Bobcats rebounded in a big way to start the second set with a 10-1 run. BU tacked on a 4-0 run for good measure en route to tying the match.
In the third set, the two Canada West heavyweights battled back and forth. It was tied 20-20, before the Spartans scored five of the final eight points to edge out the Bobcats.
Brandon built up momentum throughout the fourth. A 4-0 run provided a spark for the Bobcats, before they found another gear with a 9-3 run. The Bobcats saw the Spartans fight off three straight set points, but the home side stuck to it and forced a fifth set.
The two sides were tied 10-10 as the fifth reached a critical point. BU won three straight points, only to see Trinity Western respond with three consecutive scores of their own. The Bobcats collected the next two points to emerge victorious in a five-set thriller.
Head Coach Ben Josephson
"This is our third straight trip out to Brandon in which we have lost the first night. And the games were all very much the same. We just couldn't get our game off the runway, which is all the credit to a good and very well coached team."
"Tonight we did not stay inside our identity. We were not very efficient offensively, we didn't serve the ball very tough and our blocking wasn't very good. And those are three areas that we rely on to score points. Brandon stopped those and they were the better serving and blocking team tonight."
"It is our first experience of losing with this group, so I'm very excited to see how we go about our business tomorrow about getting better and responding. Never fun to lose, but fun to watch the growth and learning happen."
- In 2015-16 TWU lost 3-0 on Friday, before beating BU 3-1 on Saturday, and in 2013-14 TWU lost 3-0 on Friday and won 3-2 on Saturday.
- Including preseason matches TWU is 17-1 in 2017-18.
The Spartans and Bobcats will match up again Saturday evening at 6:45 CT in Brandon. TWU's next home match up is next weekend when they host the Mount Royal Cougars.