Matt Packwood, Brandon University Athletics
BRANDON, Man. – The Trinity Western Spartans had one of their toughest tests so far this season against the Brandon Bobcats but held on for a 3-2 (21-25, 25-18, 25-12, 20-25, 15-9) win Friday night.
The Bobcats started 2019 with a bang as the home-side surprised the No. 1 ranked Spartans early and battled back in the fourth to force a fifth and final set.
The Bobcats stormed out of the gates thanks to tough defence on serve receive and blocking at the net in the first set before cooling off in the second and third.
The fourth set saw the Spartans extend their lead to as much as seven before Brandon clawed their way back in thanks to impressive serves from rookie Katie Primeau. The freshman served seven points in a row to force the final set.
Trinity lived up to the hype in the final frame as their physical play at the net was just too much as the Spartans picked up their 13th win on the season to remain undefeated in conference play.
"Having to play at such an intense level, especially in the fifth set, really got us started and got us back into that really competitive game," says Trinity third-year outside hitter Hilary Howe.
"It felt like we were building from the first set and then the fifth set was really intense and a great start to the second semester," Howe adds.
Howe paced the Spartans with 16 kills, nine digs and six blocks. Micaylee Pucilowski finished with 13 kills while Brie King put up a match-high 50 assists.
Bobcats coach Lee Carter gave credit to both his team and the Spartans following the match.
"At times we played some pretty excellent volleyball. We just need to find that for longer periods of time," says Carter.
"They're number one in Canada for a reason and they showed it in a couple sets. We were able to bounce back and play smart and play with some passion and kind of control it at times."
For the Bobcats, Michelle Egger finished with a season-high 18 kills while Nikala Majewski added 12.
The win keeps Trinity Western's record at a sparkling 13-0 while Brandon sits at 3-10.
The two teams will meet again Saturday afternoon at the Brandon University Healthy Living Centre with first serve coming at 5 p.m. CST.
Photo courtesy Milana Paddock