By Mark Janzen, Trinity Western University
LANGLEY, B.C. – The No. 2-ranked Trinity Western men's volleyball team earned a 3-0 (25-14, 25-22, 25-20) win over Thompson Rivers Saturday at the Langley Events Centre to complete a six-set weekend sweep of the WolfPack.
For the second night in a row, Eric Loeppky (Steinbach, Man.) won the battle between two of the top outside hitters in Canada West, as he finished with 14 kills compared to the WolfPack's Tim Dobbert, who had 10 kills. Loeppky hit .458 while Dobbert hit .192.
In his first-ever Canada West start, first-year TWU left side Brodie Hofer (Langley) tallied seven kills, two aces and a block. Middle Pearson Eshenko (Banff, Alta.) had six kills and didn't commit a single attacking error while hitting .462. Right side Jackson Howe (Calgary) had seven kills and a team-high five blocks.
After Dobbert, it was Sam Taylor Parks, who didn't play Friday, returning to the lineup to add seven kills for TRU.
The Spartans (11-3) finished the night hitting .341, while the WolfPack (7-7) hit .194. After the teams combined for 41 serving errors Friday, it was a slightly better night from the line for both sides with TRU committing 14 errors with two aces, while TWU had 15 errors and five aces.
Picking up where they left off on Friday night, TWU hit .542 in the first set en route to an 11-point win. TWU had just one attacking error, with Loeppky earning five kills on six attacks (.833). Sam Taylor Parks led TRU with three of his team's six kills.
Opening up a 16-12 lead at the technical timeout, the Spartans built a six-point lead at 20-14 before holding off a late charge from TRU to earn the win. The WolfPack had a better hitting percentage in the set – hitting .286 to TWU's .270 – but the Spartans took the set with Eshenko leading the way with four kills from the middle.
The third set was close early on, but down the stretch the home side once again took over. While both teams hit .250 in the set, TWU had 12 kills compared to TRU's eight as TWU rolled to the win.
Ben Josephson – TWU Coach
"I think it was a similarly played game for us, but I just think our opponents were a lot sharper. They served the ball better and they were able to add Parks into the mix and he's a really nice player. With his addition and their increased serving, I think that made the game more competitive than yesterday. We made more attacking errors but part of that is because we were in more trouble with their serves. I thought Dobbert got going tonight and he was making some nice shots. I think in the second and third sets, those games were really competitive. They had a bit of a playoff feel. That's what we were hoping for and I thought the guys responded really well.
"It was another really nice performance from Jackson, which is great for us. I thought Brodie did an unreal job stepping in for (Jacob) Kern (Edmonton). He made some rookie plays and then he made some veteran plays. That's what you see with these freaky young guys. You see the high end stuff and then you see the other stuff that I'm excited to show him on video. All in all, it was a pretty impressive first start, especially in reception. He handled some really tough serves. I also thought Derek (Epp, Saskatoon) and our middles did a really good job tonight of setting the table. Aaron (Boettcher, Surrey, B.C.) and Pearce were beasts."
• Dobbert is second (4.39/set) and Loeppky is third (3.91/set) in Canada West in kills per set.
• TWU is now 32-6 all-time against TRU.
• Since starting the year with a 7-1 record, the WolfPack has now lost six matches in a row.
The Spartans return to the Langley Events Centre next Friday and Saturday to host UBC. Thompson Rivers has a bye next weekend and returns to host Brandon on February 1st at home.
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.