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SPARTANS OPEN REGULAR SEASON WITH WIN OVER REGINA

LANGLEY, B.C. – In the first game of the Canada West regular season, the Trinity Western Spartans captured their first win over the Regina Cougars in a 3-1 (25-14, 23-25, 25-14, 25-19) victory Friday evening at the Langley Events Centre.

The Spartans Hilary Howe (Calgary) was instrumental in the Spartans win, leading TWU with 15 kills and three blocks, while first-year Savannah Purdy (Victoria) impressed in her debut, contributing 11 kills, two aces and 11 digs. Ashtyn McKenzie (Vernon, B.C.) had 11 kills and 14 digs.

Setter Brie King (Langley) distributed the ball well, with five different Spartans earning at least six kills, while she herself collected 41 assists and three aces.

Jessica Lerminiaux led the visitors with 11 kills and three aces. Ashlee Sandiford added eight kills, two aces and two blocks.

Coming out of an unbeaten preseason (9-0), the Spartans, who were ranked fourth in the Canada West preseason poll, dominated the first set, with the third-year Howe leading the charge with four kills. Ashtyn McKenzie (Vernon, B.C.) was not far behind with three kills, aiding to the Spartans .409 attack percentage.

Regina found their rhythm in the second set with Ashlee Sandiford taking four attacks while teammate Jessica Lerminiaux led the Cougars with a .357 attack percentage. The lead changed seven times but it was Regina who secured the final few points with a block from Sandiford and Emma Matheson to end the set 25-23.

The third set remained close until midway, where the Spartans extended their lead to 12-5 with back-to-back attacks from fourth-year Mikaelyn Sych (Airdrie, Alta.). She led the set for both teams with five attacks and built on the Spartans 14 service aces. Regina was unable to make up the deficit after a three-point serving run from Ashtyn McKenzie, with TWU ending the set 25-14.

Continuing the momentum into the fourth set, the Spartans led until the 10th point where Cougar Brittany Rousseaux subbed in and connected on a serve ace for a one-point lead. Purdy then led the Spartans on a seven-point serving streak, aided by Howe, Avery Heppell (Langley) and three Cougar attack errors. First-year setter Olivia Heinen (Langley) subbed into the final three points of the game as the Spartans took the set, 25-19.

The Spartans finished the game with a .276 attack percentage to Regina's .096. Also notable was the Spartans service aces, 15 to Regina's seven.

QUOTABLE
TWU Head Coach Ryan Hofer
"There's always a bit of nerves, there's a lot of people here, there's a great fan base, a lot of excitement. With that, it adds a little bit of extra jitters. We want to perform well, and I know that the girls want to do well out there. Overall, I'm very pleased with how they played tonight.

"You never know really what you're going to expect, but we came out and we played a consistent match. It was a bit of a serving game tonight. They were really hot in the second set, we were hot in other sets, so it was learning to contain each other's serves.

"I thought Brie did a really good job tonight of just keeping us balanced out there and finding different people and creating isolation opportunities. Our attack efficiencies were pretty good, our numbers were pretty good this evening, and so Hilary always takes a lot of volume for us, and did a good job. Everybody did a really good job with what they were given."

NOTABLE
• TWU and Regina met once in the preseason with the same results, TWU taking the game in four sets
Emma Gamache (Langley, B.C.), Purdy and Heinen, all first-years, saw their first regular season game time as Spartans. Fourth-year transfer Sych also made her TWU debut.
• The Spartans finished the game with 63 digs to Regina's 50

NEXT UP
TWU and Regina return for their second game of the weekend Saturday evening at the Langley Events Centre, with the game starting at 5 p.m. (PT).