SASKATOON – The University of Saskatchewan Huskies made quick work of the Trinity Western University Spartans Saturday evening at the PAC, winning in straight sets (25-20, 25-23, 25-22) to earn their first victory of the 2017-18 Canada West women’s volleyball season.
Both teams sit at 1-1 on the season after splitting the opening series.
Third-year Taylor Annala was shining for the Huskies, recording a game-high 11 kills and nine digs. Mackenzie Pek also provided a game-high 29 assists. On the other side, second-year Hilary Howe (Calgary) was the Spartan standout with six kills, three aces and four digs. Fifth-year middle Katelyn Devaney (Port Coquitlam, B.C.) also had six kills for TWU to go with four blocks.
In the first set, the Huskies broke a 12-12 tie with a 12-2 run. The Spartans came back with a 6-1 run to narrow the Huskie lead to three, but fourth-year Huskie Ruby Stefan finished things off with a kill followed by a big block to win the first set for Saskatchewan.
The Huskies momentum spilled into the second set, building a 10-3 lead before Trinity Western called its first timeout to minimize the damage. The Spartan timeout seemed to rally the troops, flipping the script on the Huskies with a 6-0 run that forced Huskies head coach Mark Dodds to call a timeout.
After the Huskie timeout, both teams traded points until the Spartans earned a 22-20 advantage late in the set. However, the Huskies answered the challenge and closed the set on a 5-1 run, taking it 25-23.
In the final set, the Huskies opened on a 7-0 run to open the set, only to see the Spartans quickly erase it. Tied 12-12 after a Spartan rally, Noble delivered back-to-back aces during a Huskie run that built their lead to 20-14. That proved to be enough room to close out the match, as the Huskies took the third set 25-23.
Head Coach Ryan Hofer
“This was a tough one. Saskatchewan scrambled really well and at the end of the day we didn’t execute at the level we need to in order to perform at our best. Our team is going through a growth process and I know that they’re not going to give up, so we’ll move on from this and there’s no doubt that today’s match will be a valuable learning experience. We’re learning how to play free while under pressure and each match is going to bring pressures of its own, so we’re learning how to compete in various circumstances.”
· First-year middle Avery Heppell (Abbotsford, B.C.) was a bright spot for the Spartans, collecting five kills and six blocks, while hitting .714.
· The last time the Spartans lost a three-set match against Saskatchewan was Jan. 5, 2002.
· The loss snaps a 14-match winning streak against the Huskies.
· The last time Saskatchewan beat TWU was Jan. 28, 2011, when the Huskies upset the then-No. 1 ranked Spartans in a five-setter.
Trinity Western returns to Langley, B.C. next weekend to host UBC Okanagan Friday and Saturday in the Spartans home-opening weekend at the Langley Events Centre.