NO. 3 SPARTANS WIN MARATHON FIFTH SET TO BEAT NO. 9 UBC OKANAGAN

NO. 3 SPARTANS WIN MARATHON FIFTH SET TO BEAT NO. 9 UBC OKANAGAN

KELOWNA, British Columbia – The No. 3 Trinity Western women's volleyball team won its 11th straight match, knocking off No. 9 UBC Okanagan after an extended fifth set saw the Spartans win 22-20 to earn a 3-2 (12-25, 25-18, 25-21, 23-25, 22-20) win Friday at the UBC Okanagan Gymnasium.

With the match tied 20-20 in the fifth set, TWU's Sophie Carpentier (Ottawa) tallied her fifth kill of the set to give the Spartans their fifth crack at match point. On the next play, a kill from setter Nikki Cornwall (Coquitlam, B.C.) sealed the victory for the Spartans (14-1).

TWU staved off two Heat match points, at 15-14 and 19-18.

The match marked the seventh straight game between the Heat (10-5) and the Spartans that has gone the distance. Including last year's Canada West gold medal match, TWU owns a 5-2 record in those games.

The Spartans finished with a slight edge statistically, with a .167 hitting percentage to UBCO's .121. TWU also had a 15-11 advantage in blocks. The Heat finished ahead in service aces, 10-7, and digs, 75-62.

Carpentier and TWU's Elly Wendel (Caronport, Sask.) led all hitters in the match with 19 kills apiece. Wendel also finished with six total blocks in the match.

The Heat attack was led by Siobhan Fitzpatrick, who finished with 16 kills. Kaitlynn Given and Michelle Jakszuk each finished with 15, and Given added 22 digs.

"Tonight was a barnburner," said Spartans coach Ryan Hofer. "Our girls really got put to the test tonight. UBCO came out guns blazing and they played a very impressive game. I thought my team did a really good job of weathering some storms and pushing back. It was an absolute battle out there in every aspect of the game. It was a fun match to be part of and I'm really pleased with how our team rallied and proud of how they played and dug deep."

The Heat started the first set on a roll, putting together two five-point runs before taking a 16-8 lead at the technical time-out. The Spartans scored just three more points after the break, on a service error and a pair of kills, before UBCO closed the set out with a pair of four-point runs. The Spartans made an uncharacteristic number of errors in the frame, giving up five of the final six Heat points on mistakes.

UBC Okanagan started the second set strong again, putting together another early five-point run to take a 6-3 lead. Immediately after that, the Spartans strung together six straight points of their own to go up 9-6. The two sides traded points from then on, with neither stringing together more than three straight the rest of the way, before TWU closed out the set on a Heat service error.

TWU scored three straight twice early in the third set, taking a 10-6 lead. The Heat answered with back-to-back kills to pull within two at 10-8, before getting to within one at the technical timeout. A five-point run by the Spartans put the visitors up 21-16 before they went on to take the set 25-20.

UBCO took a 3-2 lead as the two teams traded points to start the fourth set, but a three-point run put the Spartans up early, 5-3. A three-point run by the Heat pulled them within one before the technical timeout, but a kill from Wendel gave the Spartans a 16-13 lead at the break. Five straight Heat points tied the set up at 19-19, and after a pair of Spartans points, UBCO scored another four straight to take a late lead at 23-21. A Given kill made it set point, at 24-22, and she buried another on the final point to give her Heat the 25-23 win.

That set up a wild fifth set in which the Heat went up 12-9 before TWU battled back to send the set well beyond the prescribed finish.

The Heat and Spartans will play again Saturday in the UBC Okanagan gymnasium, with first serve scheduled for 5 p.m. (PT).

-TW-

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