February 9, 2013, Edmonton, AB (ISN) – The No. 2 Trinity Western women’s volleyball team saw its eight-game winning streak come to an end Friday as it fell 3-1 to No. 7 Alberta at the Saville Community Sports Centre.
The loss ends the Spartans feint hopes of catching conference-leading UBC as it’s now guaranteed that TWU, who dropped to 18-3 on the year, will finish second in the Canada West standings. The Spartans will host a Canada West quarter-final best-of-three match Feb. 14, 15 and, if necessary, 16.
The win guarantees that Alberta, the reigning conference champions, will finish third in the conference standings, and also host a best-of-three quarter-final series. The Pandas now have a 15-6 record. While both Mount Royal and UBC Okanagan can tie the Pandas, Alberta owns the tie breaker on both teams.
The quarter-final winners will travel to Vancouver, home of the five-time defending CIS champion UBC Thunderbirds, for the Canada West Final Four tournament. The top three finishers from the conference championship will move on to the CIS championship, Feb. 28 – March 2 at Sherbrooke University in Quebec.
On Friday, Laurie Eisler’s squad got a match high 12 kills from fifth-year left-side Krista Zubick as well as 10 kills from fellow fifth-year setter/right-side Alyssa Jones. Jaki Ellis and Lia Stang, also part of the Pandas’ graduating class, each recorded seven kills in the win, while Ellis also had 19 assists, one ace and 11 digs. Already the Canada West record holder for career regular season aces, Ellis, who is originally from Mississauga, also owns more than 2,000 career assists, and is closing in on 500 career kills.
Trinity Western was paced by both Carly Hamilton (Calgary) and Amy Ott (East Selkirk, Man.), who each had 11 kills. Amber Brown (Three Hills, Alta.) picked up nine kills, three aces and 12 digs in the loss.
“Alberta got us a little bit out of our element and they put a little pressure on us and we struggled with it,” said Spartans coach Ryan Hofer. “We need to figure out how to respond a little bit better and rise to the occasion. It was a good battle tonight and both teams worked hard.”
Alberta, which needed a single win this weekend to cement a home playoff date, was the sharper of the two teams from the beginning. After earning a modest 19-15 advantage over TWU, the Pandas exploded for a 6-1 run to win the set decisively, 25-16. Jones was dynamite in the opener, collecting seven kills, four assists, a .778 hitting percentage and three digs.
The Pandas took a step back in the middle frame, committing eight attack errors as well as five service errors, but were fortunate that the Spartans struggled even more as they also had eight attack errors to go along with seven service errors, which allowed Alberta to edge out the 26-24 win, and a 2-0 match lead.
Trinity Western tightened up its game significantly in the third, going on to win 25-20 on the strength of five kills and two aces from Brown, as well as a pair of aces from Ott. Alberta did get three kills from Zubick, and two from rookie Karly Janssen, but as a team they also dished up four errors from the service line in the five-point set loss.
Alberta opened the fourth set with a 6-1 run as they once again caught TWU flat and took full advantage. Increasing their lead to 10-3 and the 16-9 at the technical time-out, the Pandas closed out the set out in strong fashion, winning 25-16, to take the match 3-1. Stang picked up three kills in the final set, while freshman Kacey Otto recorded a pair of kills and a late ace to help cement the win.
The two teams will meet again on Saturday night, this time as the early game as they get underway at 6:00 p.m. MT.
Game Notes: TWU hit .062 for the night while Alberta hit .160…Alberta had an 11-7 edge in blocks…TWU had a 7-5 advantage in aces.