by Mark Janzen
January 8, 2014, LANGLEY, British Columbia (ISN) – The No. 5 Trinity Western women’s volleyball team will kick off the second half of its season this weekend when it hosts Mount Royal Friday at 6 p.m. and Saturday at 5 p.m.
Both matches will be streamed live at twu.canadawest.tv.
The Spartans (8-4) enter the weekend series after nearly six weeks off – they haven’t played a formal match since a five-set win over Manitoba Nov. 30 – while the Cougars (5-7) are coming off a three-match weekend in which they played exhibition games against Toronto, Alberta and Regina.
TRINITY WESTERN SPARTANS (8-4)
- CIS ranking: No. 5
- Canada West standings: 4th
- Last weekend: Manitoba 3-2 W, 3-0 W
- Streak: 3 wins
Canada West Stats
- Hitting Percentage: .181 (5th)
- Opponent Hitting Percentage: .137 (3rd)
- Assists: 11.61/set (5th)
- Kills: 12.30/set (5th)
- Blocks: 3.37/set (1st)
- Aces: 1.54/set (6th)
- Digs: 14.91/set (4th)
When it comes to blocking, the Spartans have been far and away the best in Canada West this year. With 3.37 blocks/set, TWU is averaging more than half a block more than its nearest conference foe. In their final match of the fall semester, the Spartans collected an all-time match high 21 blocks in a five-set win over Manitoba.
After starting the season with just two wins in their first five outings, the Spartans entered the Christmas break winners of six of their last seven matches. Over that span, they have earned victories in a variety of ways, including two five-setters, two four-setters and two three-setters. Most recently TWU rallied from a 2-0 deficit to beat Manitoba in five sets.
In their last game against Manitoba, the Spartans earned an all-time match high 76 kills. The Spartans Sophie Carpentier had 22 kills while Royal Richardson had 19 kills and Alicia Perrin added 18 kills. TWU’s previous high was 68 against Manitoba Feb. 13, 2009.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Kristen Moncks – After winning Canada West Libero of the Year last year, the fourth-year Spartan picked up right where she left off this season. After averaging 3.26 digs/set last year, she is averaging 3.65 digs/set this year. In three of TWU’s last four matches, she has collected 20 digs.
Alicia Perrin – After earning Canada West First Team All-Star honours last year playing at the middle position, Perrin has largely played on the outside this year and has been impressive. She enters this weekend ninth in Canada West in kills with 3.17/set, fourth in blocks with 1.42/set and seventh in points with 3.99/set.
Nikki Cornwall – The first-year setter earned a TWU record 64 assists in a five-set win over Manitoba in the Spartans last match of the fall semester. Through her first 12 matches at the university level, she, while rotating with fellow TWU setter Lauren Moncks, is averaging 7.32 assists/set.
MOUNT ROYAL COUGARS (5-7)
- CIS ranking: NR
- Canada West standings: 7th (tied)
- Last weekend: Thompson Rivers 3-0 W, 3-0 W
- Streak: 2 wins
Canada West Stats
- Hitting Percentage: .177 (6th)
- Opponent Hitting Percentage: .200 (9th)
- Assists: 11.07/set (6th)
- Kills: 11.68/set (6th)
- Blocks: 1.88/set (10th)
- Aces: 1.45/set (9th)
- Digs: 13.39/set (6th)
In their first season playing at the CIS level, the Cougars proved that they belonged. They finished fifth in the regular season before advancing to the Canada West Final Four after beating UBC Okanagan in the first round of the playoffs. Expectations were high for this year, but the season hasn’t exactly gone as planned. While they still have a share of the final post-season berth, a daunting schedule awaits as all five teams MRU has left to play are currently in a playoff spot.
ON THE RISE
After starting the season with three wins in their first 10 matches, the Cougars got a pair of confidence-boosting victories just before the break. With Thompson Rivers providing the opposition, MRU had its two best offensive nights of the season. The Cougars hit .434 as a team in a three-set win Nov. 30 and hit .253 as a team in another three-set win Nov. 29.
FIRST TIME FOR EVERYTHING
The underdog Cougars will be looking for their first ever win over currently No. 5 ranked TWU when they come to Langley Friday and Saturday. In their two meetings last year, the Spartans won 3-0 and 3-1 in Calgary.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Julia Pasieka – The 6-foot-3 middle is sixth in the conference in hitting percentage at .290 and is second on the team in kills with 2.16/set. She had a season-high 18 kills against Calgary on Oct. 26 in a match in which she collected 23.5 points. She also leads MRU with 12 service aces.
Mackenzie Allen – In her second year setting at the CIS level with MRU, the fifth-year Allen is fifth in the conference with 8.74 assists/set. It’s a slight improvement on last year when she averaged 8.66 assists/set.
Carolyn O’Dwyer – After leading MRU in kills last year with 2.94/set, O’Dwyer has maintained her pace this year as she is averaging a team-high 2.98 kills/set. She also leads the Cougars in digs amongst non-liberos with 2.67/set.