Spartans Rally to Knock Off Bobcats

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January 12, 2013, Langley, BC (ISN) – After dropping the first set, the No. 4 Trinity Western women’s volleyball team rallied to win three straight to knock off unranked Brandon 3-1 Saturday afternoon at the Langley Events Centre.

With a variety pack of an attack – one that saw four TWU players earn at least nine kills – the Spartans (12-2) put together a strong all-around performance that saw the home side complete the weekend sweep of Brandon (5-9). On Thursday, TWU beat the Bobcats 3-1.

The Spartans were led by Amber Brown (Three Hills, Alta.), who had 13 kills and a match-high 13 digs, while first set substitute Carly Hamilton (Calgary) came off the bench to add 12 kills and eight digs. Both Brown and Hamilton matched their career-highs in kills with Brown having put up 13 this past Thursday against Brandon and Hamilton previously collecting 12 earlier this season against Thompson Rivers on Nov. 9. Amy Ott (East Selkirk, Man.) added 10 kills and four blocks while Alicia Perrin (Creston, B.C.) had nine kills. Setter Kelci French (Okotoks, Alta.) had 43 assists, five kills, eight digs and two aces.

“There are five of us outside hitters who are all really good,” said the Spartans Amber Brown, commenting on the variety of TWU attackers, notably Hamilton off the bench. “If one person is off, the next one goes in. It’s not scary being a starter when they come in because you know they’re going to do a great job. And it’s nothing on me if I go out because it’s all about the team.”

For the Bobcats, Victoria Dakin (Calgary) led the way offensively with 13 kills to go with three aces and seven digs. Shanlee McLennan (Winnipeg) added 11 kills and 10 digs. Setter Kellie Baker (Brandon, Man.) had 37 assists and three blocks while Chloe Reimer (Sanford, Man.) had a team-high 12 digs.

“This is a game where we have to scramble,” said Spartans coach Ryan Hofer. “We had two very offensive teams both banging the ball. Both teams can block well and play good defence and it’s a lot of side out volleyball and some serving streaks. We had to do a little bit of everything today to get the win.

“They grabbed that first set and then we had a lot of control of that second set before nearly losing it and that was a reminder for us that no set is every safe no matter what kind of lead you have. I think we know that but this is Canada West and it’s good ball all the time.”

The Bobcats scored the first two points of the opening set and, beyond that, never trailed. The Spartans got to within one point at 7-6, but a subsequent 5-0 run from Brandon, capped by a Baker ace, put the Bobcats back in the driver’s seat, up 12-6. However, after a Spartans timeout and with Hamilton substituted onto the floor, TWU responded with an 8-2 run to knot the set 14-14. But the Spartans could get no closer. Brandon scored five straight points and, with momentum decidedly on the visitor’s side, the Bobcats ran away with the set, winning by six.

Trinity Western roared out to a raucous start in the second set and, after a French kill, took a 10-1 lead. But Brandon wasn’t about to lay down. With the score 17-10 for TWU, the Bobcats started clawing their way back. With Dakin leading the way with four kills and two aces in the set, Brandon managed to come all the back and take a 22-21 lead. But after the Bobcats had a chance at set point, at 24-23, a kill from TWU’s Brown sparked a 3-0 run for the home side that gave the Spartans the set. A kill off the right side from Ott earned TWU the 26-24 win.

The Bobcats seized early momentum in the third set going up 7-4 after a block by Jodie Baker (Brandon) and Dakin. But TWU scored four straight points and, after a Brown kill, took an 8-7 lead. From there, neither team possessed more than a three point lead as the sides went back and forth down the stretch. An ace by Perrin gave TWU a 24-21 lead and then, following a Brandon attacking error, the Spartans took the set 25-23. After struggling to a .143 hitting percentage in the second set, TWU improved to .235 in the third. Brandon, who had hit .152 in the second, dropped to .077 in the third.

In the fourth set, with the score 11-10 for Brandon, the Spartans went on a 5-0 run, capped by a Perrin block that gave TWU a lead it wouldn’t relinquish. The Spartans extended their lead to as much as six points, at 20-14 and then rolled to a convincing five point win. Fittingly, it was a Brown roll shot off the left side that earned the match-winning point.

The Spartans are back at home next weekend when they host Manitoba Jan. 18-19 at the Langley Events Centre. The Bobcats return to Brandon next weekend for a series against Alberta Jan. 18-19.

Game Notes: With two aces, TWU setter French tied the Spartans single-season record of 36, which is also held by current TWU assistant coach Lies Reimer, who accomplished the feat twice, in 2001-02 and 2002-03…TWU finished with a .156 hitting percentage compared to Brandon’s .143…Brandon out-blocked TWU 10-7…TWU had an 8-7 advantage in aces.