LANGLEY, British Columbia – The Trinity Western Spartans opened the weekend of a battle between two U SPORTS top five teams with a 3-1 victory Friday night at the Langley Events Centre in Langley, B.C. The No. 3 Spartans defeated the No. 5 Pandas in a back-and-forth match which saw TWU prevail 17-25, 25-22, 25-18, and 25-21. The win improves TWU to 5-0, while the loss is Alberta's first of the season, 4-1.
The Spartans had a balanced attack with fourth year middle Mikaelyn Sych (Airdrie, Alta.) with 13 kills, and third year outside Hilary Howe (Calgary) with 10 kills and 13 digs leading the way. While Kory White with 19 kills, and11 digs and Julia Zonneveld with 10 kills and 16 digs led the Pandas.
TWU's second year middle Avery Heppell (Langley, B.C.) led all players with eight blocks to go with her eight kills.
The Spartans fourth year setter Brie O'Reilly (Langley, B.C.) finished with 36 assists, while the Pandas Mariah Walsh finished with 39 assists.
The Pandas were very strong to the match as they took the opening set 25-17. Alberta was very efficient as they hit for a solid .417, while TWU only managed to hit for .128.
TWU found their game in the second set to even up the match 1-1 after a 25-22 win. The Spartans attack improved significantly as TWU finished the set hitting .324, while Alberta cooled off hitting .297.
Trinity Western took the 2-1 lead with a 25-18 third set. Both teams struggled offensively as the respective blocks took control of the game. TWU finished the set hitting .086, while Alberta went negative hitting -.136. The Spartans finished the set with six blocks, while the Pandas had four.
The Pandas looked like they would force a fifth set as they took a 10-2 lead to open up the fourth set. The Spartans changed the tied of the set by going on a 10-2 run of their own to tie the set up at 12-12. TWU continued their strong play to take a 16-14 lead into the break. Alberta was unable to recover as TWU took the set 25-21 and the match 3-1.
TWU Head Coach Ryan Hofer
"Against a really good team like Alberta it takes a little bit of time to find our rhythm. To figure out how they are hitting and what patterns they are running. Tonight our line-ups were quite in place early and they were hitting our edges and finding holes."
"I knew that if we were patient that we would settle in and find our blocking rhytm. Our serving was really strong tonight. We served a high percentage in and we served tough enough to put Alberta under pressure and keep them off the net, where they are very dangerous."
On the fourth set comeback.
"I don't like being down 10-2. We just have some good servers that can go back and put pressure on the other team. And if our block gets lined up we have another thing going for us. So I think we had a bit of a perfect storm which allowed us to come back."
- The Spartans finished the game hitting .187 (49-21-150), while the Pandas finished at .143 (52-29-161).
- TWU had the edge in blocking, 13-9, while Alberta had the edge in service aces 11-7.
- Alberta finished the night with 76 digs to TWU's 70.
The Spartans and the Pandas will match up again tomorrow night. Match time is set for 5 p.m. PT at the Langley Events Centre in Langley, B.C. The match can be seen live on Canadawest.TV.