LANGLEY, B.C. – The No. 5 Trinity Western men's volleyball team knocked off UBC Okanagan 3-1 (26-24, 25-18, 20-25, 25-14) as the Spartans played in their Canada West season-opener Friday.
With the win, Trinity Western captures their first conference victory win of the season after having a bye last weekend, while the Heat fall to 0-3 early in the new campaign.
Spartans outside hitter Eric Loeppky (Steinbach, Man.) had 13 kills to lead the way for the visitors along with three service aces.
Both Jacob Kern (Edmonton) and Jackson Howe (Calgary) would finish with 11 kills apiece on the night, with Howe also picking up seven digs in the match. Setter Derek Epp (Saskatoon) would finish with 43 assists along with seven digs, three blocks and three kills to his name.
Max Heppell would be the offensive force on the night for the Heat, racking up 15 kills for the home team.
Rookie Noah Campbell would get the start for UBCO and finish with nine kills in the match which is his new career-high. Australian Matthew Aubrey would finish with eight put-aways in the contest along with two blocks.
It was a highly entertaining first set in the Furnace as the two teams went on runs of their own in the opening frame. The Heat scored five out of six points following the technical timeout to build a 19-17 lead, and had three separate opportunities at set point with the score 24-21. Trinity closed the set like conference champions do, scoring the final five points of the opening set including two straight service aces from Kern to close the set.
The visiting Spartans got off to a hot start in the second frame, scoring six of the first seven points of the set to build an early lead. While the home team cut the deficit down to six at 16-10, they were unable to mount the comeback against the Spartans. The Trinity Western attack was nearly unstoppable in the set, racking up 18 kills on just 27 total attacks.
It was the Heat's best set of the night in the third, limiting the Spartans to a match-low .143 hitting percentage on just seven kills. The Heat trailed early on until five points out of six game them the lead just prior to the technical timeout. Trinity Western would cut the lead to just one at 20-19, but the Heat closed the door by scoring five of the next six points.
After the Heat scored the opening two points of the fourth, it went south from there as the defending conference champions found their rhythm offensively and built a 16-9 media timeout lead. It was smooth sailing in the final frame for the visitors as they closed out the fourth by a 25-14 score line.
The Spartans finished with more total kills (50-43), service aces (8-2), digs (22-20) and total blocks (14-5). Hitting percentage was one of the key deciders of the match, with TWU holding a decisive edge (.409 - .212).
TWU Head Coach Ben Josephson
"When we were good, we were good. And then there were lows where we just made stacks of errors. We went from being a super high-efficient offence to an error-prone offence and then back to a high-efficient offence. I think we hit two out of our three goals for the game. The only thing we missed on is that I don't think we blocked as aggressively as we want. Part of that is because our opponents did a really good job of probing our vulnerabilities. They ran some really cool patterns with their left side players. I thought Max Heppell for them had a fantastic match and we never really figured him out. I think coach (Brad) Hudson figured out a bunch of ways to put us under pressure and we handled some of them well and other things we didn't handle quite as well. I think this is going to be a great test for us overnight to look at the video and figure out how we adjust and what we can adjust in 24 hours. We're excited to get a win on the road to open our conference season."
• TWU is 15-0 all-time in the regular season against the Heat.
• Last year, the Spartans swept the Heat on home court to open the regular season.
• The teams met in preseason this year, with UBCO winning in four sets in the Blue Team Cup.
The Spartans and Heat play again Saturday in the rematch at 7 p.m. (PT).
About Spartan Athletics
As official members of U SPORTS, the Spartans currently compete in 10 sports in the Canada West conference, including women's and men's soccer, volleyball, basketball, cross country and track & field. TWU also competes in the British Columbia Intercollegiate Hockey League (BCIHL) in men's hockey. Since TWU entered U SPORTS in 1999, the Spartans have won 11 U SPORTS team championships and 25 Canada West team championships.