SPARTANS RALLY TO ADVANCE TO CANADA WEST FINAL, NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP
KELOWNA, British Columbia – Down 2-0 to Alberta in the Canada West semifinals, the Trinity Western women’s volleyball team did something remarkable that has seemingly become commonplace. For the third time in their last three playoff matches with the Pandas, the Spartans rallied from a two-set deficit to win 3-2 (22-25, 26-28, 25-19, 25-18, 15-13), this time knocking off Alberta in the Final Four semi-final to advance to both the Canada West gold medal match and earn a berth in the CIS national championship.
The Spartans rallied to beat Alberta in similar fashion twice last year, in both the conference and national championship finals and, on Friday, TWU wrote the same story again.
On the strength of an offensive effort that saw Elizabeth Wendel (Caronport, Sask.) collect 22 kills and Sophie Carpentier (Ottawa) tally 18 kills, and a defensive front that saw TWU earn 17 blocks, the Spartans put themselves in the conference final for the fourth time in the last six years.
The Pandas’ Meg Casault led her team in attacks, scoring 18 kills (.111), and added 18 digs.
Kacey Otto had 15 kills (.170) and 23 digs, and Karly Janssen had 11 kills (.125).
The Pandas finished the night with 56 kills and a (.140) attack percentage, and Trinity finished hitting (.132).
Alberta’s setter Mariah Walsh led the match in assists (47). Trinity setter Nikki Cornwall followed with (44).
The University of Alberta won the first set, 25-22. Trinity Western led 16-14 at the technical time-out, but the Pandas’ run late in the set took them to set point, and Meg Casault put it away for Alberta with her set leading sixth kill.
The Spartans scored 13 kills to the Pandas’ 12, but hit only .083 against the Alberta net defence, which tallied five blocks in the frame.
Alberta won the second set 28-26. Trinity Western led 16-13 at the second’s frame’s technical time-out, but the Pandas made another late push to tie it up at 24. The teams traded points, but the Pandas took it on another set-winning kill from Meg Casault.
Trinity Western took the third set, 25-19. Alberta led at the technical time-out, 16-13. Trinity Western took advantage of Panda errors to tie the set up at 17-17, and quickly took a 20-18 lead behind back-to-back kills from Sophie Carpentier. Rowyn Neufeld put the set away for the Spartans with her fifth kill of the match.
Trinity Western won the fourth set 25-18. The Spartans led 16-10 at the fourth set’s technical timeout, and never let up, pushing their lead to ten points at 20-10. Elizabeth Wendel led the Spartans’ attack, scoring six kills in the set.
After forcing a fifth set, the Spartans put together their most efficient set of the night, hitting .233 to earn the set and the match. TWU went up 12-6 and looked in full control, but Alberta didn’t quit, clawing back to make it a one-point game at 12-11. However, with TWU up 14-13, the Pandas put a serve into the net to give the Spartans the win.
The defending champion Spartans will take on UBC Okanagan in the gold medal match Saturday at 7 p.m. in Kelowna. Both teams will move on to the CIS championship in Brandon, Man.
Alberta will play UBC in the bronze medal match with only the winner moving on to the national tournament.