WINNIPEG – The No. 1 Trinity Western Spartans continued their winning ways with a 3-1 (19-25, 25-16, 25-20, 25-18) road win over the No. 9 Manitoba Bisons Friday at the Investors Group Athletic Centre.
With the away win, TWU's record moves to 14-1 with a 10-match winning streak and Manitoba falls to 6-9. The contest was a rematch of last year's Canada West gold medal match, which TWU won in five sets on the Bisons home floor.
The Spartans broke from back-and-forth play midway through the fourth set to lead 14-11 and rolled from there.
Riley Vander Meulen (Edmonton) finished a rally for the Spartans, securing them a comfortable lead at 19-15, while an attacking error by the home team put TWU within five of set point. A calculated spike from Eric Loeppky (Steinbach, Man.) moved the Spartans within two points of set point before TWU won the final set 25-18.
Scott Vercaigne had a team-high 13 kills for Manitoba.
The Herd led early in the first set and maintained their lead throughout, eventually winning it 25-19.
A block by Brendan Warren got an untouched kill for the home side which was followed by another block that sent the ball straight down on the Spartans side moving the home team within two points of set point. The Spartans tried to pick up momentum as set point neared, getting a five-point streak but the Bisons eventually took the set by six points.
TWU shut the hosts down with a string of blocks and aces as the Herd struggled with their serve receive in the latter half of the second set. The Spartans won the set off a serving error by the home team, 25-16.
Although Manitoba started the third set strong, TWU caught up fast to force its way into a very back-and-forth game. Throughout the set, the Bisons worked hard to play with the Spartans but they capitalized off their strong blocking, which was unanswered by the home team. A series of monster spikes let the Spartans move to within one point of winning the set, eventually leading to a 25-20 win thanks to a kill earned from a wall formed by Loeppky and Eshenko.
TWU Head Coach Ben Josephson
"We came out sluggish and didn't play with great energy or effort or togetherness – a lot of things we pride ourselves on as a program. That was very frustrating and midway through the set, we had a conversation about what we're about as a program and I thought the kids did a great job of changing their approach to the match. That in turn effected how they performed in the match. We hold ourselves to a high standard because we want to be high achievers and the guys did a good job of adjusting.
"I thought our kids did really well in the block defence phase and our passing was really good. And Adam was once again masterful. Jesse Elser (Calgary) had another good game (with seven kills), while our Manitoba boys, with Carter (Bergen, Winnipeg; nine digs), Eric and Adam, were great."
Manitoba Head Coach Garth Pischke
"It's always tough when you're playing the number one team in the country. We started really well. They have a lot of weapons there and we just couldn't find a way to stop all of them. I thought we played very well."
Both teams will face each other again tomorrow at 4 p.m. (PT). Watch the match live online at www.CanadaWest.tv.