NO. 3 SPARTANS RALLY IN THIRD SET TO EARN WIN OVER BRANDON

NO. 3 SPARTANS RALLY IN THIRD SET TO EARN WIN OVER BRANDON

LANGLEY, British Columbia – Trailing 24-19 in the third set, the No. 3 Spartans women's volleyball team staved off five set points before winning 27-25 to cap a 3-0 (25-16, 25-17, 27-25) victory over Brandon Friday at the Langley Events Centre.

With an impressive defensive display in the late stages of the third set from both libero Rachel Flink (Surrey, B.C.) and setter Nikki Cornwall (Coquitlam, B.C.), the Spartans (16-3) roared back to end the match in the minimum.

After Elly Wendel (Caronport, Sask.) put TWU on match point, a kill from Ashtyn McKenzie (Vernon, B.C.) finished the match in favour of the home side.  

"We've been working really hard on our defensive game over the last month – raising our pursuit levels and our ability to get to the ball and get it up," said Spartans coach Ryan Hofer. "That showed tonight, especially in the last few points of the third set."

As a team, the Spartans finished with 68 digs, which marked the TWU's third highest total for a three-set match in program history. Wendel and Cornwall had 15 digs each, while Flink had 13 and Brie O'Reilly (Langley) had 11. Brandon (7-12) had 45 digs.

"We were scrambling well and were getting the ball back up and we were giving ourselves opportunities," Hofer said. "Brandon raised their level of play in the third set and we had to fight and show a lot of character in that game and make some big plays. I think Brandon earned some of it, but I think we also put ourselves into that position. So, in the end, I think there are some things we can celebrate, but there are also some things we can improve on."

On a night when the Spartans hit only .120, Wendel led the way with 15 kills, while Sophie Carpentier (Ottawa) had eight kills.

Brandon's Nikala Majewski had a team-high six kills, while Danielle Larocque had a match-leading five blocks.

The Bobcats finished with 9.5 blocks while TWU had seven.

The victory put the Spartans back in the win column after dropping back-to-back matches against No. 1-ranked Alberta last weekend.

The Spartans held Brandon to just four kills in the opening set, while earning 11 themselves en route to a nine-point win. With the score tied 11-11, Cornwall served TWU to a 7-0 run that put the home side in the lead for good. Carpentier and Wendel each had four kills in the set while Majewski had three for Brandon.

TWU didn't skip a beat in the second set, taking a 6-1 lead and holding off the Bobcats the rest of the way. Wendel collected another six kills and the Spartans held Brandon to five kills as a team. After TWU hit just .073 in the first set, the offence found its rhythm in the second set, hitting .257. The Bobcats hit .091 in the second set after hitting -.105 in the opener.

After Brandon took a 7-4 lead in the third set, Bobcats first-year Carmen Ross went down with an injury in which she needed to be carried off the court. But with Ross sidelined, Brandon responded with a 7-2 run to push its lead to 14-6. The visitors carried a lead throughout the set and, with a 24-19 edge, looked primed to force a fourth set. But then, a Bobcats service error started TWU's rally and with three kills from Wendel leading the way, the Spartans came all the way back to take the set and the match.

The teams meet in the rematch Saturday at 5 p.m. (PT) at the LEC.

Game Notes: The Spartans record for digs in a three-set match is 83, which they posted Feb. 27, 2009 against Moncton…TWU is 17-6 all-time in the regular season against Brandon...including regular season and playoffs, TWU has won eight straight matches against the Bobcats…TWU is 10-1 at home against Brandon in the regular season…Brandon's only win against TWU in Langley was a five-setter Nov. 14, 2009…Carpentier is currently fourth all-time in Canada West for career kills, with 1,158. She is only 16 kills behind Rachel Cockrell, who is third overall.

-TW-


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