LANGLEY, British Columbia – On the strength of an 18-kill performance from Trinity Western’s Sophie Carpentier (Ottawa), the Spartans took Game 1 of their Canada West Quarter-Final series over Mount Royal 3-0 (25-16, 25-18, 25-22) Thursday at the Langley Events Centre.
The Carpentier show arrived early and was dominant often as she hit .419 and added a pair of aces in leading TWU to a convincing win in the first ever playoff meeting between the Cougars and Spartans.
“What makes Sophie special is that she manages the ball really well,” said Spartans coach Ryan Hofer.
“She has a great contact and she has a heavy arm. (Setter) Nikki (Cornwall, Coquitlam, B.C.) knows how to find her and the two of them have a connection that is pretty special.”
The Spartans were largely in control throughout the night as there was just one lead change through the first two sets. MRU pushed back in the third set, possessing a 21-20, before TWU scored five of the last six points to win the set and the match.
Spartans middle Ashtyn McKenzie (Vernon, B.C.) finished with seven kills and just one attacking error to go with two blocks, while right side Elly Wendel (Caronport, Sask.) had nine kills and five aces. Cornwall had a match-high 38 assists while guiding TWU to a .293 hitting percentage. Brie O’Reilly (Langley) collected a match-high 13 digs.
The Cougars Taylor Pelland, Robyn Potolicki and Alex Donaghy each had five kills for the visitors, who hit .069 as a team.
TWU had a 5-1 edge in blocks and an 8-6 advantage in aces.
“It was solid volleyball,” said Spartans coach Ryan Hofer. “This is the playoffs. People come and they’re going to bring their ‘A’ game. We’ve been working really hard these last few weeks, so it’s good to see our team take what we’ve been doing in the gym out to the game floor. Mount Royal put us into a bit of trouble with our serve receive, so we need to tweak a few things there and see what we can improve on for tomorrow.”
The Spartans took the opening set in convincing fashion, hitting .344 and earning four aces to take the set by nine points. Carpentier and Wendel each had five kills to lead TWU, while Donaghy had three kills for the Cougars.
The second set was more of the same, with TWU pulling away in the middle stages to take the set by seven points. With the set tied 13-13, TWU picked up three straight points to take a lead into the technical timeout. From there, TWU rolled to the win, with Carpentier tallying the set-winning point with her eighth kill of the set.
After Carpentier crushed a pipe ball over the middle to give the home side a 17-13 lead in the third set, the Spartans looked well on their way to winning the match. However, the Cougars responded with a 5-0 run to take an 18-17 lead. From there, the teams traded points until 21-20, when the Spartans found a late rhythm. Sparked by a Carpentier kill, TWU finished the match on a 5-1 run.
The teams will meet in Game 2 Thursday at 7 p.m. (PT) at the LEC.
Game Notes: The Spartans are now 15-0 in the playoffs all-time at the Langley Events Centre…the Spartans are 11-0 all-time in the regular season and playoffs against the Cougars and have only lost two sets over that span…the Spartans have won seven straight matches and 21 consecutive sets…the loss snapped a five-match Cougars winning streak.