by Mark Janzen
February 12, 2014, LANGLEY, British Columbia (ISN) – The No. 3 Trinity Western women’s volleyball team will open the Canada West playoffs Thursday on home court as the Spartans host Regina in a best-of-three Canada West quarter-final series February 13, 14 and, if necessary, 15 at the Langley Events Centre.
All matches will be streamed live at twu.canadawest.tv. Game times are Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 7 p.m.
The Spartans, who finished third in Canada West during the regular season, are coming off a 17-5 campaign and enter the post-season having won 12 of their last 13 matches. Meanwhile, Regina, who finished sixth overall and posted a 12-10 mark, rolls into the playoffs riding a four-game winning streak, including a pair of wins over then No. 6 UBC Okanagan on the final weekend of the year.
The Cougars and Spartans have played each other three times this year, including once in preseason and twice in the regular season. Trinity Western is 2-1 in three matches against Regina this year, winning 3-1 in the preseason before splitting a weekend series at home, losing 3-0 before winning 3-1.
TRINITY WESTERN SPARTANS (17-5)
- CIS ranking: No. 3
- Canada West standings: 3rd
- Last weekend: Winnipeg 3-0 W, 3-0 W
- Streak: 2 wins
Canada West Stats
- Hitting Percentage: .200 (3rd)
- Opponent Hitting Percentage: .102 (1st)
- Assists: 11.41/set (5th)
- Kills: 12.17/set (5th)
- Blocks: 3.41/set (1st)
- Aces: 1.75/set (4th)
- Digs: 14.72/set (5th)
THE ROAD TO REGINA
The Spartans trek to Regina, where the 2014 CIS national championship will be contested, begins in earnest this weekend. Trinity Western has qualified for the national tournament in each of the last three years and this year’s goal is no different. With national championship aspirations, the first step must be taken this weekend as they will host a conference quarter-final series for the ninth straight year.
FAMILIAR PLAYOFF FOES
This will be the fourth time the Spartans have met Regina in the Canada West quarter-finals since TWU entered the CIS in 1999. The Spartans won each of the previous three best-of-three series, in 2006, 2007 and 2011, and are 6-1 against Regina in quarter-final matches. The Spartans and Cougars also played in the Canada West bronze medal match in 2010. With a berth in the national championship on the line, the Cougars won in five sets.
If the Spartans are to make a long playoff run this year, it’ll be largely because of their defence. Trinity Western held its opposition to a Canada West leading .102 hitting percentage and is coming off a weekend in which it held Winnipeg to a .055 attacking percentage, including .000 in the final match of the regular season. Combine that with the Spartans league-leading 3.41 blocks per set and the Spartans are certainly an imposing foe on defence.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Sophie Carpentier – The second-year outside has become the Spartans offensive catalyst this year and for good reason. She finished the year second in Canada West in both kills, with 4.14 per set, and points, with 4.96 points per set, while also leading the conference in aces with 0.51 per set.
Alicia Perrin – Both in the middle and on the outside, Perrin has been her dominant self all year. She led the conference in blocks with 1.61 per set and finished the year 10th in points with 3.65 per set. Last weekend, she also took over the Canada West career blocking record, now with 387 blocks.
Katelyn Devaney – Now that she’s healthy, the first-year middle has given TWU options. While the Spartans have experimented with a variety of lineups, Devaney has been a remarkably steady performer. She finished second in Canada West in blocks with 1.60 per set and had 10 blocks in six sets on the final weekend of the year.
REGINA COUGARS (12-10)
- CIS ranking: NR
- Canada West standings: 6th
- Last weekend: UBC Okanagan 3-1 W, 3-2 W
- Streak: 4 wins
Canada West Stats
- Hitting Percentage: .195 (5th)
- Opponent Hitting Percentage: .181 (8th)
- Assists: 11.81/set (4th)
- Kills: 12.54/set (3rd)
- Blocks: 2.07/set (8th)
- Aces: 1.60/set (6th)
- Digs: 13.19/set (9th)
ROLLING INTO THE PLAYOFFS
The Cougars come into the post-season as one of the hottest teams in Canada West. Regina finished the regular season having won nine of its final 10 matches, which includes two wins over now No. 6 Alberta, two wins over then No. 6 UBCO and a win over No. 5 Manitoba. The Cougars have won four games in a row and since starting the year with four straight losses, have only been swept once in a weekend series and that was against No. 1 UBC.
In 2010, the Cougars ended the Spartans season by knocking them off in the Canada West bronze medal match. This year, Regina would love to play spoilers once again and dash TWU’s hopes of a trip to the championship tournament. At the same time, while, as hosts, the Cougars are already assured of a berth in the national championships, there’s no doubt they would like to earn their spot and prove that they belong.
SETTLE IN YOUR SEATS
The Cougars, along with Alberta, played more sets than any other team in the conference. Both Regina and the Pandas played 85 sets this year. Of the 22 matches Regina played, 13 went beyond three sets. Most recently, the Cougars played a total of nine sets against UBCO last weekend, winning 3-1 and 3-2.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Desiree Ates – As a fifth-year outside, Ates finished her final regular season in the CIS with a bang as she broke the Canada West single-season record for kills with a whopping 347, which was three more than the previous record and two more than UBC’s Lisa Barclay, who had 345 this year. She also finished third in kills with 4.08 per set and fourth in points with 4.61 per set.
Leah Shevkenek – The first-year setter had a remarkable rookie campaign as she set the Canada West single-season record for assists with 860, bettering the previous mark of 842. She was second in the conference with 10.12 assists per set.
Michelle Sweeting – The fourth-year middle led Canada West in hitting percentage at .333 while averaging 3.09 kills per set. She was also sixth in points with 4.02 per set. She had 29 kills and 12 blocks last weekend.