TORONTO (CIS) – The Trinity Western Spartans lived up to their No. 1 seed, overcoming a two-set deficit to defeat the Alberta Pandas 3-2 (22-25, 23-25, 25-15, 25-15, 15-11) and claim their first-ever national women’s volleyball title as the 2015 CIS championship, presented by Canuck Stuff, wrapped up Sunday evening in Toronto.
The Spartans become the 11th CIS institution to earn the national women’s volleyball banner.
Second-year setter Nikki Cornwall of Coquitlam, B.C., tallied 53 assists and a team-high 20 digs and was named the 2015 championship MVP.
“It feels absolutely amazing,” said an elated Cornwall after the game. “Being down the first two sets, I knew we could come back and it was just a matter of finding that fire within us. We were able to keep fighting through all five sets, whereas other teams, I don’t think would be able to do that as well as we did.”
The two teams also met in the Canada West final one week ago, with the Spartans overcoming a two-set deficit to take the conference banner 3-2. Trinity Western is a perfect 3-0 versus the Pandas on the national stage, having defeated them at the 2006 and 2011 tournaments.
“These girls refuse to die,” said Spartans head coach Ryan Hofer. “They just never gave up and they had so many chances to give up and they just said no, not today. After the second set, I didn’t say a whole lot. They knew what they needed to talk about and I just encouraged them.”
Third-year outside hitter Elizabeth Wendel of Caronport, Sask., topped Trinity Western with 21.5 points on 16 kills, three aces and 2.5 blocks, while fifth-year veteran Royal Richardson had 16 kills, 11 digs and two blocks.
Ottawa native Sophie Carpentier added 15 kills, 10 digs and 2.5 blocks, with Alicia Perrin notching 11 kills and seven digs in the win. Cornwall, Wendel and Perrin all earned tournament all-star honours.
“Alicia Perrin has been the glue for us, all of our seniors in fact,” added Hofer. “I’ve got great leadership across the board. Not all of them could be on the floor but they’re cheering their guts out in the back corner.”
Appearing in their 12th championship final since 1993, the Pandas are now 7-5 in the CIS title match. Alberta has claimed three of the last four national silver medals, most recently winning the title in 2007.
CIS all-Canadian Meg Casault of Edmonon led the Pandas with 18 kills, three blocks and 15 digs, while Kacey Otto added nine kills and 21 digs on the night. Jessie Niles led all players with 23 digs. She, along with teammate Dione Lang, were named to the tournament all-star team.
Photo: Martin Bazyl