By Katie Maryschuk, Trinity Western University
LANGLEY, B.C. – The No. 1-ranked Trinity Western Spartans improved on their record-breaking season Friday night as they won against the Thompson Rivers WolfPack in four sets (25-11, 22-25, 25-14, 25-17).
In the first game back at the Langley Events Centre of 2019, the now 15-0 Spartans led with a .312 attacking percentage, en route to a convincing win. TWU's Hilary Howe (Calgary) led TWU with 22 kills, while Mikaelyn Sych (Airdrie, Alta.) had 14 kills while hitting .520 and earning five blocks. Setter Brie King (Langley) finished with 47 assists, eight kills, four service aces and eight digs.
For Thompson Rivers (8-9), Kendra Finch took the WolfPack team lead with 13 kills and a .294 attack percentage while teammate Olga Savenchuk contributed 10 kills and 16 digs.
The Spartans got off to an early lead in the first set with six points before a service error finally put the WolfPack on the board. The home team improved with five kills from Sych, while Avery Heppell (Langley) and Howe followed close behind with four kills apiece to give the Spartans a.382 attacking percentage to TRU's .062. The Spartans continued their momentum to the end of the set, finishing ahead 25-11.
Following the Spartans early 5-2 lead in the second set, Thompson Rivers developed a new rhythm with back-to-back kills from Savenchuk. TRU took a six-point lead at 15-9 and the Spartans trailed for the remainder of the set. With the combination of five blocks, four aces, and.250 attacking percentage, TRU won the set 25-22 after a final kill from Finch.
Heppell led the Spartans at the start of the third set on a 12-serve run, accelerating the Spartans lead before the WolfPack capitalized on a service error. The Spartans led the entire set, but not without push back from TRU leftside Gabriela Podolski, pulling the game closer, at 23-13. It was Howe who led the set with seven kills compared to TRU's overall set total of four, as the Spartans finished the set off at 25-14.
The fourth set remained a balanced contest until the 13-13, when the Spartans pulled away. King went on a seven-serve run to put TWU in a favourable position for the remainder of the game. The WolfPack fought for the final few points with a service ace from Avery Pottle, but it was the Spartans with a final attack from Micaylee Pucilowski (Kelowna, B.C.) to finish the set 25-17.
TWU and Thompson Rivers return for their second match of the weekend on Saturday evening at the Langley Events Centre, with the game starting at 5 p.m.
Ryan Hofer – TWU Coach
"It's always tough coming out of a break, but I thought our serve was enormous for us this evening. We were able to keep them off the net in the first, third and fourth sets. In that second set, they passed well and then we got into a bit of trouble.
"TRU runs a really quick offence, so we need to make sure we're not going to be late. We need to make sure our blockers are there on time and then make sure our middles are going to be where they need to be."
On continuing momentum into Saturday's match
"I think if we can have the same serving match and that our block lineups are where they need to be, I think we can have some success. Our thought our hitting efficiency was pretty solid tonight. But they're also a good blocking team. They have good systems in place and they put a lot of pressure on us to make shots and be creative. We just can't go out there and swing. We have to be smart and make good choices. If we do that, I think we're going to continue to put pressure on them."
• The Spartans extended their program record unbeaten streak to start a season to 15 games.
• The last time TWU lost a regular season game was on Feb. 10, 2018 against UBC.
• Including the preseason, the Spartans are 24-0 this season.
• Including preseason, the Spartans have won eigth straight matches against TRU. The last time TRU beat the Spartans was Feb. 12, 2016 when the WolfPack won 3-1.
The rematch is Saturday at 5 p.m. (PT) at the LEC.
Recognized for quality, TWU has received seven consecutive A+ rankings for Quality of Teaching and Learning, holds three Canada Research Chairs, and wins national championships in CIS sports. More importantly, lives are changed at TWU through its whole-person, Christ-centred approach to education. With a wide array of undergraduate, graduate, and adult degree-completion programs, TWU equips leaders of character and competence to make a positive impact in the lives of others.
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.