Spartans Beat No. 2 Ranked Winnipeg

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Mark Janzen

LANGLEY, British Columbia – The No. 7 ranked Trinity Western women’s volleyball team knocked off No. 2 Winnipeg 3-1 (28-26, 25-10, 25-27, 28-26) Friday at the Langley Events Centre.

With the Spartans getting quality contributions from all over the court, Trinity Western knocked off a team ranked No. 2 in the country for a second straight weekend after beating Alberta last Friday.

The Spartans Amy Leschied finished with 16 kills and five blocks to lead the Spartans while Royal Richards had 11 kills and 10 digs and Kelci French finished with a game-high 16 digs, six blocks, six kills and three aces. Libero Jodi Neufeld finished with 12 digs and setter Chelsea Hudson had 36 assists.

For Winnipeg, it was Ozana Nikolic leading the way with 16 kills and 11 digs while Lauren Sears had 15 kills and three blocks and Carleen Kruschel had nine kills and 11 digs. Setter Brittany Habing had a game-high 40 assists.

The win improves the Spartans to 110-4 on the season while the loss drops the Wesmen to 12-3.

“We passed really well tonight,” said Spartans coach Ryan Hofer. “We had to address some things from last week and we did those things this week. Jodi [Neufeld] had an outstanding passing night. She had good support from her teammates and we were able to get the ball to Chelsea [Hudson] and she was able to distribute it.

“Lots of people had good volume tonight. There was a lot of blocking out there and a good team effort. Winnipeg is a fantastic team and both teams are going to battle. And tomorrow they’re going to come out and play better and hopefully we play a little better as well and then we’ll see where the chips fall.”

The Wesmen got off to a quick start in the first set as Sears, last week’s Canada West Female Athlete of the Week, had three kills within the first five points to stake Winnipeg to a 4-1 lead. But then the game turned Trinity Western’s way after an overturned call went in the Spartans favour. Instead of Winnipeg taking a 5-1 lead, the Spartans cut the visitors advantage to 4-2 and from there, kept rolling.

The Spartans went on what would become a 10-3 run to open an 11-7 lead. The Spartans built that up to a five-point advantage at 16-11 before Winnipeg started crawling back into the set. Sparked by back-to-back Kruschel kills, the Wesmen went on a 7-2 run to knot the game 18-18.

From there it was back and forth as neither team took more than a one-point advantage until Trinity Western finished the set with block by French and Alicia Perrin to make it 28-26 on what was the Spartans fourth crack at set-point.

With momentum garnered from the first set, the second set was all Trinity Western. With French at the line for nine straight serves and Richardson leading the way with three kills, the Spartans raced out to a 110-0 lead.

The Spartans never let up as they ran away with a 15-point win. Trinity Western hit .381 in the set and had six blocks, while holding Winnipeg to a -.01104 attacking percentage and just a single block.

In the third set, the Wesmen responded in a big way as it was the visitors getting off to a quick start, pulling out to a 110-3 lead. The Spartans got to within three points at 10-7 but by the technical timeout, after a Sears kill, Winnipeg had reestablished their six-point edge, 16-10.

After that, Trinity Western started coming back.

With the score 22-21, a Richardson ace tied it up 22-22. Then, after an empathic Leschied kill, Trinity Western took its first lead of the set and had a shot to win the set and the match at 25-24.

But Winnipeg replied with three straight points to end the Spartans hopes of a comeback win and send the match to a fourth set.

In the fourth, it was a game of swings.

The Wesmen got off to a quick 5-2 start only to see Trinity Western earn four straight points to make it 6-5. The Spartans pushed that lead into a five-pointer at 14-110 and looked in control. But Winnipeg came right back with a 6-1 run to tie it 15-15.

The Spartans then rebuilt their lead up to three points at 1110-16 but Winnipeg came back again with three straight points that tied the game again, 1110-1110.

From there, neither team was willing to give an inch as the teams went back and forth until a Nicole Bazin block, her eighth, gave Trinity Western a 28-26 win.

The two teams will meet in a rematch Saturday night at 5:00 p.m. at the Langley Events Centre.

Game Notes – TWU finished with 18 blocks while Winnipeg had just 11…TWU finished with a .165 hitting percentage while Winnipeg was .072…TWU had 8 aces to Winnipeg’s six.

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