BURNABY, British Columbia – The no. 2 ranked Trinity Western University Spartans held off a solid University of Calgary squad Friday evening in a marathon five-setter at Jack Simpson gymnasium (25-16, 18-25, 25-20, 21-25, 15-13).
With the win the Spartans maintain their position at the top of the Canada West conference at 14-1 while the loss drops the Dinos to 6-9.
“Calgary was solid tonight. Give them lots of respect. For us it was learning to adjust to a different style of play and making adjustments throughout the match,” commented TWU head coach Ryan Hofer. “Nikki did a great job of distributing the ball tonight and everybody worked together tonight to get the win. Now we need to work hard and prepare for tomorrow.”
It was a back-and-forth kind of match, with the Spartans winning the first and third sets and the Dinos responding with wins in the second and fourth. The Spartans would narrowly best the Dinos in the fifth set, despite an inspired attempt at a last-minute comeback from the home side.
Despite the loss, head coach Natalie Gurnsey credited her team’s performance against the reigning national champions and current Canada West leaders.
“I’m pleased with it on a lot of levels. I feel we prepared for them and my team executed extremely well against a very, very good team,” said Gurnsey.
The Dinos’ offense was led by outside hitters Jaylynn Moffat and Janna Ogle. Moffat finished with a game-high 19 kills – including four straight in the fourth to win the set for the Dinos. Ogle also got into the double digits, registering 13 kills.
Ogle also managed 19 digs and was the Dinos’ strongest server, with three aces on the night and an eight-point serving run early into the second set.
For the visitors, Sophie Carpentier, Katelyn Devaney and Elizabeth Wendel provided the offensive threat. Carpentier scored 18 kills, while Devaney and Wendel chipped in with 14 each.
“They have two hitters that carry sixty per cent of their offense,” said Gurnsey. “We knew we needed to be able to control [Carpentier] and [Wendel].”
The Dinos showed their energy early into the first set, with Ogle scoring off a pair of ferocious cross-court spikes. But the Spartans started to show their class as the set carried on, leading 7-3, 8-5 and 13-7, compelling Gurnsey to call multiple time-outs.
The Dinos couldn’t find their rhythm in the first, and would lose the fairly one-sided set 25-16.
The second set was in stark contrast to the first. Ogle’s eight-point serving run brought the score to 8-2 for the Dinos, and the home side never let the lead slip. The Spartans started to crumble, and would drop the set 25-18.
Like the first, the third set belonged to the visitors. Devaney and Wendel each managed four kills as the Spartans coasted towards a 25-20 win. The BC side led throughout the set 7-2, 11-7 and 17-12. By the set’s end, the Spartans had managed seven team blocks.
“They have a lot of big swingers and a very big block,” said Ogle. “I think that some teams can be intimidated by that block.”
The Dinos re-found their groove in the fourth set, which was characterized by some longer rallies. An ace from Laura McManes brought the score to 20-13 for the Dinos.
But the Spartans weren’t ready to lose the set without a fight. A six-point serving run brought the score to 21-19. But Moffat was at her best to close out the set, earning four straight kills to force the game into a fifth and final interval.
“Jaylynn was huge today, and this is only her second weekend back. That was a pretty exceptional performance on her part,” said Gurnsey.
The fifth looked like it could go to the Dinos, with the home side putting up its best blocking of the match and leading early in the set. But some inspired hitting from Carpentier was enough to pull the Spartans ahead 14-9. Four straight points for the Dinos put the Spartans’ hearts in their throats, but the reigning national champions eventually scored their match point.
The women’s volleyball team is 2-1 to start the New Year. Ogle spoke about the increase in the team’s confidence since last semester.
The Dinos and Spartans will match up again Saturday, with first serve at 4:00pm at the Jack Simpson gymnasium.
Match Notes: the Spartans had a 10-9 edge in team blocks and a 12-7 edge in service aces…TWU finished the night hitting at .192 percent, while Calgary finished at .174 percent… the Spartans Nikki Cornwall finished the night with 52 assists, while Erika Myhre led the Dinos with 42 assists…TWU libero Mariel Garcia has had back-to-back matches with 21 digs…