Carpentier, Wendel lead No. 3 Spartans to three-set win over TRU

Carpentier, Wendel lead No. 3 Spartans to three-set win over TRU

By Mark Janzen, Trinity Western University

LANGLEY, British Columbia – Trinity Western's Sophie Carpentier (Ottawa) and Elly Wendel (Caronport, Sask.) combined for 22 kills to lead the No. 3 Spartans to a 3-0 (25-18, 25-17, 25-20) win over Thompson Rivers Friday at the Langley Events Centre.

A week after Canada West kills per set leader, Iuliia Pakhomenko had back-to-back 31-kill performances, the Spartans (12-1) held the TRU star to just nine kills as the home side earned its ninth consecutive win.

With Carpentier, Wendel and Pakhomenko, the top three attackers in the conference were all on the court together, but it was the Spartans duo winning the day as they collected 11 kills and three aces each, helping TWU to a convincing victory.

In a rematch of last year's Canada West quarter-final series, TWU was the better team from both the baseline, earning seven aces to the WolfPack's three, and the attack line, hitting .265 to TRU's .134.

The Spartans are now 13-0 against TRU (6-7) on home court all-time in the regular season.

TWU setter Nikki Cornwall (Coquitlam, B.C.) led the offence with 31 assists, four kills and eight digs. Ashtyn McKenzie (Vernon, B.C.) was dominant in the middle, with six kills and just one attacking error while adding three blocks.

After Pakhomenko, the WolfPack's Rachel Windhorst had six kills while Morgan Kolasa had five kills and three blocks. Kendra Finch had a match-high 11 digs.

"I was pleased with the match tonight," said Spartans coach Ryan Hofer. "In prepping for TRU, we knew they were passing really well and so we needed to put a little pressure on them from the baseline and I thought we did that. Iuliia is obviously a really good player for them and we had to make sure that we put some pressure on her and force her to make some nice shots to score. I thought as a team, we blocked well and I think we scrambled well.

"Overall, I just thought it was a really well-rounded effort. Nikki did a great job of distributing the ball today and that obviously showed well in our varied attack."

The Spartans raced out to a 5-0 lead in the first set and never trailed en route to a seven-point win. The WolfPack evened the set 9-9 and were within one point through the middle stages, but TWU pulled away late and a Wendel ace sealed the set. Both teams were efficient offensively in the first set, with TRU hitting .304 and the Spartans hitting .345. The Spartans had a 4-0 edge in aces.

TRU took a 10-6 lead in the second set and forced the Spartans into an early timeout. Out of the timeout. TWU tallied four straight points to even the set, before pushing ahead to take a three-point lead at the technical timeout. Similar to the first set, TWU found its rhythm late and took the set by eight points. Wendel and Carpentier each had eight kills through the first two sets, while Pakhomenko had seven kills for the visitors.

After a back-and-forth start to the third set, the Spartans took over just before the technical timeout, taking a 15-10 lead. TRU never got closer than three points the rest of the way and with TWU putting together its most efficient set of the night, hitting .364, the Spartans ran away with the set. A Wendel ace put the match to bed.

The teams will meet in the rematch Saturday at 5 p.m. (PT) at the LEC.

Game Notes: The Spartans haven't dropped a match since a five-set loss against Calgary Nov. 5…TWU is 23-2 all-time in conference play against the WolfPack and 27-2 overall…TWU is 17-0 at home against the WolfPack overall, including preseason, regular season and postseason… Pakhomenko was coming off a weekend in which she averaged 7.75 kills per set and was named the U SPORTS Female Athlete of the Week.