SASKATOON – The No. 2 ranked Trinity Western University Spartan men's volleyball team continued a strong start to their season Friday night on Ron & Jane Graham Centre Court inside the PAC, defeating the University of Saskatchewan Huskies in four sets (23-25, 25-18, 25-14 25-20).
The win will improve the Spartan record to 6-1 on the year, while the Huskies drop to 3-4.
Fourth year outside Jacob Kern (Edmonton) was a force to reckon with throughout the match, registering game-highs in kills and hitting percentage; 22 and .576. Third year outside Eric Loeppky (Steinbach, Man.) chipped in with 16 kills, a service ace and five digs. The Spartans finished the match hitting at a .385 clip.
For the Huskies, it was fifth-year Colin Fraser and second-year Dylan Mortensen leading the way with 11 kills each. Fraser would also provide an ace at the service, while Mortensen collected six digs. As a team, the Huskies hit at a .210 clip on the match.
It was back and forth throughout the majority of the first set as the Huskies played with energy out of the gate. They would eventually scrap up an 22-18 advantage before the Spartans spent a timeout. Out of the timeout, Trinity Western would grab five of the next seven points to shrink to lead to 24-23. Fraser sealed the deal for Saskatchewan thereafter, his kill won the set 25-23.
The Spartans started off the second set much better than the first, building a lead they wouldn't surrender. Despite a few Spartan attack errors to keep the Huskies hanging around, Loeppky powered his team down the stretch with a couple of timely kills. Trinity Western took the set 25-18.
Kern got his team rolling in the second set. A few early kills plus a handful of attack errors from the Huskies gave Trinity Western a 9-4 advantage early on. The Huskies couldn't seem to shake off the misplays as the set went on, two more late errors gave the Spartans the 25-14 win.
In the fourth and final set, Trinity Western built a 23-16 advantage and looked to cruise to victory. A Spartan error plus three quick Huskie kills would trim the lead to 23-20. That's as close as Saskatchewan would come though, as Kern and Loeppky each provided a kill to take the set 25-20 and thus, clinch victory for Trinity Western.
TWU Head Coach Ben Josephson
"We started slow as the Huskies came out flying. They came out passing great and running really good middle balls and it took us a little bit to find our groove. We hit a few balls out of bounds and created separation and we couldn't close it down in the opening set."
"But then we found a bit better passing rhythm and we were really good at high ball. So some of the tougher serves we handled and Eric and Kern were fantastic at high ball. Derek ran our middles really well especially in transition. We did a really good job of finding a bit of offensive rhythm in the middle section. And then in the fourth set was really close."
"Gritty tough road win. Happy with it. Really nice to get a road win in Derek's home town. Always fun, and the guys were fired up to get a win for him."
- Trinity Western finished the night hitting .385 (62-17-117), while Saskatchewan finished hitting .210 (41-19-105).
- The Huskies had four blocks, while the Spartans had 11 blocks
- Second year setter Derek Epp (Saskatoon) led the Spartan attack with 52 assists, while Huskie setter CJ Gavlas had 36 assists.
These two teams will play game two of their weekend matchup tomorrow night on Ron & Jane Graham Centre Court at the PAC. First serve is slated for 8 P.M and the game can be viewed live online via CanadaWest.TV.