Spartans Sweep No. 2 Ranked Pandas

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Mark Janzen

LANGLEY, British Columbia – The No. 8 ranked Trinity Western women’s volleyball team knocked off No. 2 Alberta 3-0 (25-21, 25-22, 25-22) Friday night at the David E. Enarson Gymnasium.

With an emotionally charged crowd behind them, the Spartans got off to a fast start in the first set and then utilized a monumental second set comeback – one that saw the Spartans rally from a 15-6 deficit to win 25-22 – to pull ahead 2-0 and then again rallied in the third set to earn the victory.

The Spartans were led by Kelci French, who had seven service aces, to go along with a team-high eight digs and 11 asssists, Royal Richardson, who had 10 kills and three blocks, and Alicia Perrin, who had six kills and five blocks. French’s seven aces is the second most in a single game in Spartans history. It is only bettered by Lies Verhoeff’s 10 against Winnipeg Nov. 30, 2002.

Alberta was led by Alena Omelchenko, who had 10 kills and two aces, and Alyssa Jones, who contributed nine kills and four digs. Whitney Matheson had a game-high 10 digs.

The win improves the Spartans record to 8-3 while Alberta drops to 7-4 on the season.

“I thought we served well tonight,” said Spartans coach Ryan Hofer. “I don’t think our serving was particularly tough but we found the right people at the right time. But it got them into a little bit of trouble and it forced them to play the ball. Then we got our block and our defence to pick it up and transitioned.

“It’s pretty loud and pretty intense in that gym. I’ve got a headache because I’ve been yelling the whole game. But it’s a nice factor to be in a home crowd and just have that energy. We feed off of it and it’s a lot of fun.”

Riding the wave of a boisterous Enarson, the Spartans got off to a fast start as they staked themselves to an early 8-3 lead. Sparked by a kill from Richardson, the Spartans took a 2-2 game and turned it into an 8-3 lead, forcing Alberta into an early timeout.

Out of the timeout, the Spartans built their lead to 11-5 before the Pandas started clawing back. Trailing 15-11, Alberta went on a quick 3-0 run to get within one point, 15-14, but in the end that was as close as the Pandas would get.

With Trinity Western up 19-17, the Spartans went on a 3-0 run of their own to open a five-point lead and from there, the Spartans held on for a 25-21 win.

The Pandas were plagued by serving errors as they had seven serving errors in the first set.

In the second set, the Pandas came out the aggressors as they raced to a 6-1 lead and, this time, forced the Spartans to take the early timeout.

Alberta continued to push their lead out of the timeout, opening as much as a 15-6 advantage.

But the Spartans wouldn’t go down without a fight in this set as they crawled back via a 6-1 run to get back in the set at 16-12.

The Pandas maintained a four-point lead up until 20-16 but then the Spartans took off on what would turn out to be a 9-2 run that completed an improbable comeback.

The Spartans took their first lead of the set, at 22-21, after a service ace by Amber Brown, and then opened up their first two-point advantage of the set, at 24-22, after a block by Nicole Bazin before a Bazin kill gave the home side the set.

The difference in the set proved to be blocking as the Spartans had three blocks to the Pandas none.

The third set started much like the second set as the Pandas took the early advantage, opening a 6-2 lead before the Spartans, like the second set as well, replied in emphatic fashion.

With French at the line and contributing a pair of service aces, the Spartans went on a 6-0 run to give Trinity Western an 8-6 lead.

The Pandas responded quickly and once again possessed the lead at 14-12 after back-to-back aces from Lia Stang. They then built their lead to a three-point edge at 17-14.

But then, once again, it was an unstoppable French at the service line doing the damage for Trinity Western as she helped the Spartan take off on a 6-0 run, with four of the points coming by way of service aces.

The Spartans continued to ride that momentum through the latter stages, opening its biggest lead of the set at 22-18. The Pandas got to within two, 22-20, and then again at 24-22, but an Alberta attack error gave the Spartans the win, at 25-22.

The teams will meet in a rematch Saturday night at 5:00 p.m. at the David E. Enarson Gymnasium.

Game Notes – The Spartans had nine blocks to Alberta’s three…TWU had 11 aces to Alberta’s eight…TWU hit .210 while Alberta hit .149.

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