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November 30, 2013, WINNIPEG (ISN) – After losing the first two sets by two points each, the No. 5 Trinity Western women’s volleyball team rallied in a big way as the Spartans stormed back to beat No. 4 Manitoba 3-2 (23-25, 25-27, 25-20, 25-21, 20-18) Saturday at Investors Group Athletic Centre.

After coming back from a two-set deficit, the Spartans nearly squandered a 14-11 fifth set lead as the Bisons tallied five straight points to earn a crack at match point at 15-14. But TWU managed to stave off three Manitoba match points before a block from Royal Richardson (Rocky Mountain House, Alta.) on Jordana Milne completed the comeback at 20-18.

The win earns the Spartans their third road sweep of the year – they are now 6-1 away from home – and improves their record to 8-4 heading into the Christmas break. The loss drops Manitoba to 6-6.

As a team the Spartans finished the game with an all-time high 21 blocks. Trinity Western’s previous high was 18.5, which it also earned against Manitoba Feb. 12, 2011.

The Spartans had three players with double digits in kills led by Sophie Carpentier (Ottawa) who bettered her 21-kill performance from Friday with a 22-kill effort Saturday. Carpentier was followed by Richardson and Alicia Perrin (Creston, B.C.), who had 19 and 18 kills respectively. Perrin and Casie Gano (Sundre, Alta.) had 10 blocks each.

First-year setter Nikki Cornwall (Coquitlam, B.C.) had quite a night as she collected a TWU record 64 assists in the win. The previous record of 56 was held by both Anna Paddock (Feb. 10, 2007 against Alberta) and Chelsea Hudson (Nov. 27, 2010 against Winnipeg). Cornwall’s previous career-high was 38, which she earned Nov. 2 against Saskatchewan.

For the home side, Rachel Cockrell had a big game with 21 kills, 13 digs, and one ace. Taylor Pischke and Crystal Mulder each had 11 kills, and Milne finished the game with 10 kills for the Bisons.

“It was a tough night and the girls really had to rally,” said Spartans coach Ryan Hofer. “It was a big challenge for them to comeback from a 2-0 deficit. We showed a lot of heart. We had to dig deep to pull this out. It’s great to have Alicia Perrin back. Our team did a great job of blocking and scrambling for the ball. It was a good team effort and to be able to come into Manitoba and take two is huge.”

The first set was mostly controlled by the Bisons who led by as much as seven before the Spartans chipped away at the Bison lead to tie it up 22-22. TWU appeared on the verge of stealing the first set but the Bisons closed it out after an impressive Milne service ace.

In the second set, neither team was able to get any separation until after the technical timeout when the Spartans took a five-point lead. But the Bisons fought back and held on to win 27-25 after Cockrell had Manitoba’s second set-ending service ace.

In the third set, the Bisons tried to slow down the surging Spartans as they clawed their way back to a 22-20 deficit before TWU shut them out the rest of the way to win the third set 25-20.

Manitoba faced some tough defense against TWU’s strong blocks early on in the fourth set but managed to keep the set tight before showing some great defense of their own and tying the game up 19-19. But the Spartans were determined to take the game to a fifth and final set and did so when Richardson capped off an exciting rally with a TWU kill.

That set up a dramatic fifth set in which Manitoba had three opportunities for match point before the Spartans, on their fifth match-point, won it.

The Spartans will take their winter break before hosting Mount Royal Jan. 10-11.The Bisons will resume their Canada West schedule when they travel to Calgary to play the Dinos on Jan. 10-11.

Game Notes: TWU hit .225 as a team while Manitoba hit .157…Manitoba had a 6-5 edge in aces.