WVB: Spartans drop home-opener against No. 9 UBC Okanagan

WVB: Spartans drop home-opener against No. 9 UBC Okanagan

By Mark Janzen, Trinity Western University

LANGLEY, B.C. – The No. 9-ranked UBC Okanagan Heat spoiled Trinity Western's regular season home-opener, as the visitors beat the Spartans 3-0 (25-19, 25-22, 25-20) Friday at the Langley Events Centre.

Led by Ann Richards, who finished with 11 kills, the Heat (2-1) were the better side throughout, hitting .216 en route to their first ever three-set win over TWU in Langley. Erin Drew added eight kills and a match-high five blocks.

The Spartans (1-2) were led offensively by second-year Hilary Howe (Calgary), who had 10 kills and three aces, while fifth-year middle Katelyn Devaney (Port Coquitlam, B.C.) had four blocks and five kills. Fourth-year libero Rachel Flink (Surrey, B.C.) had a match-high 17 digs. TWU hit .104 as a team.

Buoyed by a boisterous home crowd, the Spartans raced out to a 13-9 lead in the first set, forcing the Heat into an early timeout. However, out of the timeout, UBCO tallied five straight points to take a 14-13 lead and from there, the Heat never trailed. A 5-0 run sealed the win for the visitors, with UBCO hitting .378 to TWU's .200.

The second set was all Heat early on as they opened a 16-4 lead at the technical timeout. The Spartans roared back, closing the gap to just two points, at 24-22, but out of a Heat timeout, a TWU error gave UBCO the set.

After collecting five kills in the first set, Richards duplicated her performance in the second set with another five-kill effort. After leading TWU with six kills in the first set, Howe was held to just two kills in the second set.

The third set saw UBCO go on an early 4-0 run that put the Heat up 10-6 after a block from Drew and Siobhan Fitzpatrick. Sparked by a Linda Damerau (Furthen, Germany) kill, TWU tallied six of the next seven points to even the set 12-12. However, momentum swung right back to the Heat as they took a 16-13 lead into the technical timeout. After that, UBCO held on for a five-point win.

TWU Head Coach Ryan Hofer
"It was an exciting environment tonight and we have a good rivalry with UBCO and have had good matches with them over the past few years. I would have liked us to have played just a little bit better. It would have been nice to have avoided digging ourselves into holes, but I was pleased with our ability to battle back. We didn't quit. But UBCO is a good team and they have good wing hitters. We just needed to control the ball better. Tonight, UBCO controlled the ball better than we did. But we're going to get better and make some adjustments and we'll see them again tomorrow night."

• UBCO had 14 aces, while the Spartans had just eight.
• The teams finished with eight blocks apiece.
• Friday's loss is just the second time TWU has dropped a match at home against UBCO. The only other time was Feb. 6, 2016 when the Heat won a five-stter.
• The last time these two teams played was in the 2017 Canada West Bronze Medal Match, when TWU won in three sets to earn a berth into the national championship tournament.

The Spartans and Heat will meet again Saturday at 5 p.m. at the LEC.