Oct 31, 2014

LANGLEY, British Columbia – The No. 4 Trinity Western women’s volleyball team won the first two sets, but then saw Manitoba rally and complete a wild comeback, winning 3-2 (15-25, 20-25, 25-23, 25-22, 21-19) Friday at the Langley Events Centre.

The Spartans (3-4) took the first two sets of the game without letting the Bisons get out front by more than a couple of points. However, Manitoba (3-4) came back strong in the third set and challenged the Spartans in the next two sets, pushing the game to an intense fifth set.

In the fifth set, the teams went back and forth, with both sides getting opportunities at match point, before Manitoba eventually won 21-19. With TWU up 19-18, the visitors rallied with three straight points, capped by a Bisons block to win.

“We need to be sharp for an entire set. We were sharp for two sets and then glimpses of other parts of the sets,” said coach Ryan Hofer. “If this team wants to develop and this team wants to be able to close out games, to be able to play smart, it’s got to be able to stay focused and sharp the entire time, and then adjust to whatever our opponent does to us.”

The Spartans were led by Royal Richardson (Rocky Mountain House, Alta.) who had team-high 18 kills. Richardson also contributed 12 digs, six blocks and a service ace. Sophie Carpentier (Ottawa) also had a good night for the Spartans, with 15 kills and two aces. Alicia Perrin (Creston, B.C.) totalled nine blocks while adding 13 kills. Nicki Cornwall (Coquitlam, B.C.) offered up 48 assists during the five set game.

For the Manitoba Bisons, it was Rachel Cockrell who led the game with 19 kills, 12 digs and five blocks.

The Spartans took the first set without too much trouble, finishing the set at 25-15. Richardson led the set for the Spartans with six kills and one ace. Perrin and Carpentier also aided in the set win, both providing TWU with five kills. Both TWU and Manitoba totaled two team blocks in the set, and while TWU hit .400, the Bisons only managed to hit .130.

The second set proved to be only slightly tighter, with the Bisons managing to earn five more points than the last set before falling again to the Spartans 25-20. The Spartans put up five more blocks during the set, while Manitoba added three to their total. Perrin grabbed a pair of solo blocks in the set. Both of the Bisons and Spartans hitting percentages suffered, with the Spartans lowering to .273 and the Bisons down to .048.

Coming out more determined than before, Manitoba put up a fight in the third set. The Bisons led the set until TWU came back late to tie it up at 20-20. The two teams battled for the last few points before the Bisons successfully finished the rally 25-23. Richardson moved into the double digits in kills, with 11 after earning three during the set. Perrin and Carpentier each reached 10 kills in the third set. Both TWU and Manitoba had a total of nine blocks at the end of the set, with TWU adding two and Manitoba four.

With one set to their name the Bisons began the fourth set with purpose, leading the Spartans by five nearly the whole set. The Spartans climbed back from being down 17-24 and kept the Bisons at set point for five points before Manitoba finished the set with a final kill 25-22. TWU hit .143 during the set, while Manitoba hit .132.

Coming down to the final set of the match, the Spartans and Bisons were neck and neck throughout. The teams battled all the way to 19-19, before the Bisons pulled out in front and claimed the last two points of the game.

“I think we’re making really bad errors when we could just continue the ball and rely on our strength, which is our block and our defense,” Hofer said. “And instead of just controlling the ball and forcing our opponents to do great things over and over again, we give them free points. When we give them free points we make it tremendously easy on them. And this is the outcome. This is a good team. This is the defending national champions. So with them, we’ve got to play at a high level.”

The Spartans and the Bisons will meet again in a rematch Saturday night at at the Langley Event Centre.

Game Notes: Both teams finished with a total of 15 team blocks…TWU has now lost four matches in a row.