November 20, 2013, LANGLEY, British Columbia (ISN) – Coming off a weekend sweep of Calgary on the road, the No. 2 Trinity Western women’s volleyball team returns to Langley this weekend as it will host Regina Friday at 6 p.m. and Saturday at 5 p.m. at the Langley Events Centre.
Both matches will be streamed live at twu.canadawest.tv.
After dropping their first two matches of the season against No. 1 UBC, the Spartans have won five of their last six contests and enter this weekend winners of three in a row.
However, after losing two of its first three matches at the LEC, TWU will be looking for a pair of wins this weekend to move above the .500 mark for the first time this year.
Including preseason, regular season and playoffs, the Spartans have won 11 straight matches against Regina. The last time TWU lost to Regina was Feb. 27, 2010, when the Cougars beat the Spartans in a five-set Canada West bronze medal match. That loss ended the Spartans season while Regina advanced to the CIS national championship tournament. That year, was the last time the Cougars – who host this year’s CIS championship – qualified for nationals.
This year, TWU and Regina played in the preseason West Coast Classic with the Spartans winning in four sets.
TRINITY WESTERN SPARTANS (5-3)
- CIS ranking: No. 2
- Canada West Standings: 4th (tied)
- Last Weekend: Calgary 3-1, W; 3-0, W
- Streak: 3 wins
- 2012-13 conference record: 19-3 (2nd)
- 2013 CW playoffs: 3-1 (silver)
- 2013 CIS tournament: 2-1 (bronze)
Since losing their first two matches of the season, the Spartans have started to find their form, losing just once over their last six outings. And since trailing Alberta 2-0 in sets on Nov. 9 – a match TWU eventually won in five – the Spartans have dropped just one of their last 10 sets.
While their record has them just two games above .500, the Spartans are still a highly respected side – their No. 2 ranking proves as much – and one that has had success despite a bevy of early-season injuries.
Trinity Western, at different times, has been forced to play without the likes of Alicia Perrin (Creston, B.C.), Royal Richardson (Rocky Mountain House, Alta.), Carly Hamilton (Calgary) and Chelsea Wand (Langley). However, through eight matches, TWU’s depth has kept the Spartans relatively on course. And with Richardson coming back with a vengeance this past weekend – she collected a combined 33 kills and was named the Canada West 1st Star of the Week – the Spartans look like a team that is just starting to gain some traction.
Statistically speaking, the Spartans blocking has been its greatest weapon this year. With Perrin, who played middle for the first three years of her university career, moving to the outside and Casie Gano (Sundre, Alta.) and first-year Katelyn Devaney (Port Coquitlam, B.C.) providing a steadying force in the middle – Devaney leads Canada West with 1.72 blocks per set, Perrin is fifth in the conference with 1.25 per set and Gano is averaging 1.03 per set – TWU leads the conference with 3.05 blocks per set. Combine the Spartans blocking with their 14.23 digs per set (3rd in Canada West) and it’s clear why the Spartans have held the opposition to a .124 hitting percentage (3rd in CW).
After splitting duties at times with first-year setter Nikki Cornwall (Coquitlam, B.C.), fourth-year Lauren Moncks (Standard, Alta.) has taken full control of the setting reigns in recent matches and is now averaging 8.48 assists per set, which is fifth in the conference.
REGINA COUGARS (2-6)
- CIS ranking: NR
- Canada West Standings: 10th (tied)
- Last Weekend: Mount Royal 3-0, W; 3-1, L
- Streak: 1 loss
- 2012-13 conference record: 5-17 (10th)
- 2013 playoffs: N/A
- 2013 CIS tournament: N/A
While the Cougars put together a successful preseason in which they went 8-6 and earned six wins out of 10 matches against Canada West foes, they haven’t seen quite the success in the early part of the regular season. Through Regina’s first eight matches, the Cougars have just two wins and are coming off a four-set loss against Mount Royal.
For the Cougars, the next two weekends won’t get any easier. With No. 2 TWU providing the opposition this week and No. 1 UBC coming to Regina next weekend, the Cougars will face what will likely be their two biggest tests of the regular season.
However, with Regina already assured of a spot at the CIS national championship tournament this year as the host, the Cougars can look at the next two weekends as something of a benchmark to see where they stand against two of the top teams in the country.
So far, this year, the Cougars offence, run by first-year setter Leah Shevkenek, ranks amongst the best in the conference. Hitting .185 as a team, Regina has the fourth most efficient offence in Canada West and its 12.0 kills per set is also fourth in the conference. Add to that the Cougars 1.73 aces per set (4th in Canada West) and Regina will certainly provide the Spartans defensive challenges this week.
However, concurrently, Regina’s defence statistically ranks near the bottom of the conference. The Cougars are averaging a league-low 1.52 blocks per set, just 11.39 digs per set (11th in Canada West) and their opposition is hitting .227 (11th in Canada West).
Leading the offence individually has largely been Michelle Sweeting and Desiree Ates. Sweeting is hitting a league-best .354 from the middle while, on the outside, Ates is second in Canada West with 3.82 kills per set. Shevkenek is averaging 9.82 assists per set (4th in CW).