KELOWNA, British Columbia – The No. 4 CIS ranked Trinity Western University women’s volleyball team earned their second straight Canada West Banner with a hard fought 3-2 victory over the No. 1 UBC Okanagan Heat Saturday evening in Kelowna, B.C. The 25-19, 18-25, 25-18, 23-25, 15-10 win give the defending CIS champion Spartans the number one spot out of Canada West heading into next week’s championship in Brandon, Manitoba.
“I’m a very proud coach this evening. I thought my team showed a lot of composure, a lot of grit and a lot of fight. They rose to the occasion and played some very, very good volleyball,” said TWU head coach Ryan Hofer. “UBC-O did a great job of hosting and had a great crowd which produced a great hometown environment to play in. Our players managed the pressure of the game and the environment very well and every time I looked they looked they were playing free.”
Canada West all-stars Elizabeth Wendel (Caronport, Sask.) led the Spartans attack with 20 kills and Sophie Carpentier (Ottawa) with 15 kills, and Mariel Garcia (Winnipeg) with 11 kills and 13 digs led the Trinity Western attack. While Katie Wuttunee with nine kills to go with four aces and five blocks and Megan Festival and Michelle Jakszuk with eight kills each led the Heat attack.
TWU all-star setter Nick Cornwall (Coquitlam, B.C.) finished the night with 46 set assists to go with nine digs and four blocks, while middle Katie Devaney (Port Coquitlam, B.C.) with eight blocks and rookie libero Brie O’Reilly (Langley, B.C.) with 17 digs were tops for the Spartans. UBC-O’s Chandler Proch ran the Heat offence finishing with 22 set assists.
Trinity Western took the first set 25-19. The Spartans started strong in the set, jumping out to a 4-1 lead. The Heat tied the match up at 8-8, then 9-9, and took a 16-15 lead into the technical time-out. The Spartans made full use of their power attack late in the set, with Elizabeth Wendel and Sophie Carpentier combining for four kills in the final six TWU points of TWU’s 10-3 run.
UBC Okanagan won the second set, 25-18. Trinity Western started strong again in the second, taking a quick 5-1 lead, with three of those points coming from Elizabeth Wendel kills. The Heat once again tied it up at 8-8, and building on a strong service run from Katie Wuttunee, took their lead up to four, at 12-8. Heat coach Steve Manuel was given a yellow card for arguing the call in favour of Trinity Western that broke the Heat run. The Heat won back serve, at 13-10, on a nearly minute-long rally that featured huge swings, diving digs, and blocks from both teams. At the technical time-out, UBC Okanagan had a 16-12 lead. The Heat held on to the lead through the end of the set, with Siobhan Fitzpatrick coming into the match and serving the final four points, including one ace.
Trinity Western won a back-and-forth third set, 25-18. The Heat took their first lead of the third set at 11-10, but the Spartans took a 16-13 lead into the technical time-out. The Spartans held steady, and went on a four point run to earn set point at 24-17. The final point of the set came on another strong kill from Elizabeth Wendel.
UBC Okanagan won the fourth set 25-23. The Spartans had a strong start to the set leading 13-6, but the Heat went on a six point run to pull within one point, at 13-12 for TWU that included back-to-back service aces from Katie Wuttunee. With yet another service ace, this time from Kaitlyn Given, the Heat tied the set up at 14. Trinity Western scored two points in a row to take a 16-14 lead into the technical time-out.
Once again the Spartans took a 21-17 lead into the later stages of the set, but the Heat went on another run, winning three points in a row to pull within one at 21-20 and force a Trinity Western time-out. The teams traded points, until the Heat took their first lead of the set at 24-23, and then won the set when Spartan hitter Mariel Garcia put an attack out the back of the court.
The deciding set saw Trinity Western win 15-10. The Spartans took an 8-6 lead into the technical time-out, and fought off the Heat attack to win four consecutive points, going up 13-8. Holding strong, the Spartans stayed consistent at the net, before taking the final point on a service error by Siobhan Fitzpatrick.
The Spartans will now prepare for the CIS women’s volleyball championship, which will be hosted by Brandon University Mar. 11-13. The Spartans are the defending CIS champion having beaten Alberta 3-2 last year at the University of Toronto. This is the fifth straight season the Spartans have made it to the national tournament and their ninth appearance the last 11 seasons.
Match Notes: The TWU men’s volleyball team also won the Canada West championship today. One school winning both Canada West volleyball titles in the same seasosn has happened only one other time in the last 20 years, by Alberta in 2007-08…TWU finished the night hitting 22.7 percent (58-26-141), while UBC-O finished at 13.7 percent (39-21-131)…the Spartans had 10 blocks to the Heat’s 11…UBC-O had nine service aces to TWU’s five…