CALGARY – An absolutely bouncing Kenyon Court played as the venue for the weekend heavyweight battle between No. 3 Mount Royal Cougars and No. 4 Trinity Western Spartans, but it was the visitors who set the tone for the weekend, sweeping the Cougars on their home court 3-0 (25-21, 25-14, 25-13) Friday.
MRU returned home after a four-game hiatus from home-court and brought their perfect 6-0 record in 2019 back to Calgary, but that streak was emphatically snapped by the visiting Spartans who have now won four of their last five, dropping only three sets in the process.
With the result of the match on Friday night, both teams are now 13-4 on the season and are tied for second place in the Canada West standings.
Jacob Kern (Edmonton) had eight kills, five blocks and three aces to lead the Spartans, while Jackson Howe (Calgary), who was playing in the middle, had eight kills, while hitting .467, and five blocks.
Trent Mounter led MRU with 12 kills. Godi Jibi, who entered the game in the waning moments of the third set, had the Cougars only block of the night.
MRU finished with one ace and 15 serving errors, while TWU had seven aces and 13 errors.
Heavy net presence along with timely points separated the Spartans from MRU in the first set as they won the first set of the game 25-21. TWU led early, going ahead 8-3 and continued its pace from the game's first point of the game, eventually building up a commanding 13-6 lead before sealing the set.
The Spartans carried the pace into the second set to take a commanding 2-0 lead as they never trailed in the second set, cruising to a 25-14 win.
MRU struggled to get on a run and was unable to generate any form of attack in the second set, posing a .091 hit percentage to the strong .333 of the Spartans through two sets.
The momentum stayed with the Spartans to begin the third set, but like it was for much of the night, TWU led throughout the set to earn the sweep of the Cougars with a 25-13 win.
The Cougars also didn't help their own cause on the attack, accumulating 20 attacking errors compared to 10 from TWU. The Spartans finished with 11 blocks to MRU's one.
Ben Josephson – TWU Head Coach
"It's hard to say what that was. They rested three starters for whatever reason – perhaps they were injured. Regardless they didn't play and so (MRU) had a bunch of substitute players. So, we played well and we beat them, but it wasn't the team we thought we were going to play. I'm not sure if we'll see them tomorrow or not. Some of the things we worked on worked well, but it was hard to tell because we got to a level that the lineup they had on the floor wasn't able to play with.
"I don't really know what to make of the game. We're a bit disappointed because we were excited to play against their opposite (Tyler Schmidt), who is probably right now the player of the year, and Tanner Greves, who is one of the best setters around. We're hoping to see them tomorrow, but if not, we'll play whoever the Cougars decide to put on the floor."
Shawn Sky – MRU Head Coach
"(TWU) is a physical team and they took advantage of our poor serving game. We need to be us and get back to playing our system. If they get on top of you, they'll find a way to break you down."
• The Spartans are now 11-2 all-time against MRU.
• TWU has won six straight matches against the Cougars.
• TWU's last loss against MRU was Nov. 27, 2015 when the Cougars won in five sets in Langley.
• MRU's Tyler Schmidt, who leads CW in kills per set (4.65), and setter Tanner Greves, who is third in CW in assists (10.04), did not play.
The rematch is Saturday, with first serve set for 5 p.m. (PT) back at Kenyon Court.
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.