REGINA – Playing in his final university season-opener, fifth-year outside Ryan Sclater (Port Coquitlam, B.C.) went off for 17 kills, as he led No. 2-ranked Trinity Western to a 3-0 (25-17, 25-15, 25-15) win over Regina Friday at the Centre for Kinesiology, Health & Sport.
Hitting .640 and committing just one attacking error, Sclater was dominant from start to finish in what was a near-perfect season-opener for the defending national champions.
“It was a good match and we played really clean,” said Spartans coach Ben Josephson. “We had a lot of different guys contributing. Ryan Sclater was incredible. Ben Lieuwen (Abbotsford, B.C.) was incredible. Adam Schriemer (Winnipeg) was incredible. Our reception held on. We had good emotion. We adjusted to the things they were doing well and we got out off to a good start to the season.”
The Spartans had eight different players earn a least one kill, with Lieuwen collecting eight kills with just one attacking error and middle Leigh Goossen (Kelowna, B.C.) nabbing six kills and three blocks. Schriemer had 33 assists and set the Spartans to a .405 hitting percentage.
Cougars first-year Matthew Aubrey, who hails from Australia, led Regina with 14 kills. The Cougars hit .095 as a team.
“They have a couple of really sweet young and talented players on their team,” Josephson said. “The two Aussies are awesome. They moved one setter to the outside and they were doing some pretty cool stuff, so it’ll be interesting to see how that team develops this year.”
In the first set, Sclater had four kills in a 6-0 TWU run that gave the Spartans a 7-2 lead and forced an early Regina timeout. Sclater and Lieuwen combined for 13 of TWU’s 16 kills in the set, with the other three – including the set-clinching kill – coming courtesy of Aaron Boettcher (Surrey).
Sclater was TWU’s top hitter in the second set as well, finishing with six kills on eight attacks as the Spartans led from nearly start to finish.
The Spartans brought first-year Eric Loeppky (Steinbach, Man.) off the bench for the third set, and he finished with four kills on just five attacks to match Sclater’s total of four kills in the final frame. TWU jumped out to a 16-7 lead at the technical timeout, and despite the best efforts of Aubrey – who finished with a total of eight kills in the final set – the Spartans cruised to another 25-15 win to secure victory in their first Canada West match of the season.
“Right at the end of the third set, Aubrey, who’s a monster, heated up,” Josephson said. “So we’re going to have to take a look at that and figure out how to contain him, because if he gets going tomorrow, we could be in some trouble.”
The Spartans and Cougars play the rematch Saturday at 6 p.m. (PT).
Game Notes: TWU was playing without injured left side Blake Scheerhoorn (Belleville, Ont.)…TWU had 7.5 blocks to Regina’s three…the Spartans had a 4-1 edge in aces