Scott Stewart - TWU Spartans
LANGLEY, British Columbia – In a battle of volleyball heavyweights the No. 7 Trinity Western Spartans swept the No. 4 Alberta Golden Bears 25-19, 25-22, and 25-19 to open the weekend series Friday night at the Langley Events Centre in Langley, B.C. The win keeps the Spartans unbeaten at 3-0, while the loss drops the Bears to 4-1.
Third year outside Eric Loeppky (Steinbach, MB) with 15 kills at .419, four aces, and five digs and fourth year outside Jacob Kern (Edmonton) with 11 kills, three aces and five digs led the Spartans. While Jacob Deinum with 11 kills and Alex McMullin with 10 kills led the Bears attack. Alberta setter Max Elgert finished with 33 set assists, while TWU second year setter Derek Epp (Saskatoon) finished with 28 assists.
The Spartans were dominant in the opening set hitting .409 (10-1-22) to the Bears .062 (11-9-32) as TWU took the opening set 25-19.
Alberta had a stronger second set, with the Bears leading 16-14 at the break. Out of the break, led by Kern's serving, the Spartans outscored the Bears 6-2 to take a 20-18 lead. TWU would maintain the lead before taking the set 25-22.
The two teams were even for the majority of the third set. The Bears led 18-17, but it would be their final lead of the set. The Spartans rookie outside Brodie Hofer (Langley, B.C.) subbed in to serve and went on a run to give the Spartans 6-0 run and a 23-18 lead. The Bears stopped the run with a side-out before TWU closed out the match 25-19.
TWU Head Coach Ben Josephson
"We like playing Alberta, because they play the same brand of volleyball as we do. They have really big physical athletes. They play a really athletic style of volleyball. They do not get cheated on their swings. They know how to block the ball and dig hard shots. They deliver hard shots and it feels like we are playing ourselves. Big high freaky athletes. It is awesome."
"We feel comfortable playing them because we understand how to play that way, but we feel uncomfortable because they are super talented. Last week against UBCO was complicated to play well. This is easy to play well, but it is against a really strong opponent. Tonight our kids could enjoy it. They understood what it was going to take to win the match and it made a lot of sense in their minds. And that is a very freeing feeling as a competitor and they rose to the occasion."
On turning points of each set.
"The first set we got off to a hot start and they found some rhythm. Sets were a dead heat until Kern cracked the second on open with a great run and Hofer off the bench cracked the third one open. Other than those two runs those two sets were a dead even. If they had caught a run first, they could have taken those two sets and then we are playing all night."
- The Spartans finished the game hitting .310 (36-9-87), while the Bears finished at .194 (37-19-93).
- TWU had the edge in blocking, 8-1, and service aces 8-3.
- Alberta finished the night with 35 digs to TWU's 27.
The Spartans and the Pandas will match up again tomorrow night. Match time is set for 7 p.m. PT at the Langley Events Centre in Langley, B.C. The match can be seen live on Canadawest.TV.