EDMONTON – The No. 2-ranked Trinity Western women's volleyball team was upset 3-2 (21-25, 26-24, 16-25, 25-23, 15-13) by MacEwan Saturday in the David Atkinson Gym.
The Spartans had 1-0 and 2-1 leads in sets, but the Griffins rallied to win the fourth and fifth and steal the upset on home court.
TWU falls to 18-3 but remains in the driver's seat for the top seed in the conference.
With the result, MacEwan improves to 10-11 on the season as they move into sole possession of the eighth and final playoff position in Canada West after Mount Royal University lost 3-0 to Calgary.
Canada West blocks leader Mikaelyn Sych (Airdrie, Alta.) added five to her total to go along with 15 kills, while both Hilary Howe (Calgary) and Savannah Purdy (Victoria) recorded 16 kills for the Spartans, who went with backup setter Olivier Heinen (Langley) after starter Brie King (Langley) was out with an injury. Heinen has a match-high 51 assists.
Lauren Holmes led the Griffins with 13 kills on 43 swings, also recording a match-high 19 digs. Middle Haley Gilfillan had 11 kills and six blocks, McKenna Stevenson added 10 kills and Carly Weber had six kills to go along with six blocks and seven service aces – including four in a row during MacEwan's 6-0 run to open Set 2. Her aces total tied a MacEwan record.
The opening set was even throughout until the clutch points. The Spartans busted open a 19-19 tie and closed on a 6-2 run to claim it, taking advantage of some Griffins errors, but also showing why they're ranked so highly in Canada. They ended it on a Sych ace.
Behind Weber's four aces in a row, the Griffins built a 6-0 lead in the second set, before the Spartans carved out a 10-3 run to take the lead. MacEwan, though, went on a 4-0 run to lead 16-13 at the technical timeout, beat TWU to 20 and held off a late Spartans rally, closing it out when Rachel Jorvina's dig flew up in the air but eluded the TWU defence.
The Spartans had complete control of the third set from start to finish and were never threatened, taking a 20-11 lead and wrapping it up early on Purdy's kill from the left side.
But the Spartans were unable to ride that wave of momentum as the Griffins rattled off a 5-1 run to start and held off multiple attempts by TWU to rally, including brushing off an 8-1 run. Still, the Griffins were first to 20 and led 22-17 before the Spartans rallied to tie it at 23. But back-to-back kills from Gilfillan and Weber gave it to the Griffins.
The fifth set featured long rallies and hearts in throats as the Griffins built a 5-1 lead before TWU fought back to tie the match 12-12. After Meaghan Mealey's serve went into the net, Purdy painted the line to tie it again at 13. But the Griffins took the decisive points as Stevenson and Gilfillan blasted kills through blocks.
Ryan Hofer – TWU Head Coach
"Olivia came in on (short) notice. Brie our starter went down and Liv came in and did a really nice job. I thought she delivered the ball. We had to make a lot of adjustments, so we're figuring that out.
"I feel that we didn't play as aggressively as we need to play. They made some great plays. They've got some great servers who go back there and put us in a little bit of trouble, but we have to stay aggressive on our side of the court."
The teams will play again on Saturday night at 4 p.m. (PT) at David Atkinson Gym.
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.