By Mark Janzen, Trinity Western University
LANGLEY, B.C. – Second-year Eric Loeppky (Steinbach, Man.) had 11 kills and five aces to lead No. 1-ranked Trinity Western to a 3-0 (29-27 ,25-14, 25-15) win over Mount Royal Friday at the Langley Events Centre.
The Spartans (6-1) hit .397 as a team and had nine aces to go with eight blocks en route to a convincing win over the Cougars (2-5).
Alongside Loeppky, who hit .526 for the match, first-year Jesse Elser (Calgary) had nine kills and three aces, while Jacob Kern (Edmonton) had eight kills while hitting .583. Middle Pearson Eshenko (Banff, Alta.) had a match-high six blocks to go with four kills.
The Cougars were led by Tyler Schmidt, who had eight kills and three aces but hit .000.
The Spartans looked strong early on in the first set, building a 20-13 lead thanks in large part to four Loeppky kills. However, MRU's Matt Saly responded with an impressive serving run that brought the Cougars within one point, at 21-20. From there, the teams traded points before Elser finished earned the win with his third kill of the opening set. Loeppky finished with seven kills in the first set.
In the second set, the Spartans took over early and never allowed the Cougars to rally. Building a 7-2 lead, TWU rolled to an 11-point win while hitting .429 and holding MRU to -.069.
The third set was more of the same. TWU built a 12-7 lead and cruised to the finish line. The Spartans hit .579 as a team in the final set with 13 kills and just two attacking errors. MRU hit .100.
Head Coach Ben Josephson
"I was happy with that performance. We wanted to stay focused on winning each point. That was something we talked about before last Saturday's match and we didn't want that concept to be a one-off. We wanted to make sure it followed us home from Brandon. We also focused on just being the best version of ourselves on the day. During practice, we can work on things, but in games, it's about performance. I thought the kids executed our tactics. We were trying a couple of things on their big swingers and those worked well for the most part. Obviously they're good players, so we didn't completely stop them. Overall, our tactics were sound and those two focus points went well."
• Dating back to last year and including playoffs, TWU has won 11 straight matches on home court.
• The Spartans have won 29 of their last 30 matches overall, including preseason, regular season and playoffs.
The Spartans and Cougars play the rematch Saturday at 7 p.m. (PT) at the LEC.