Trinity Western rallied from being two sets down to earn a 3-2 (22-25, 23-25, 25-19, 25-22, 15-10) win over Thompson Rivers Friday on the Warner Rentals court at the Tournament Capital Centre were.
Having forced a fifth set, the Spartans jumped out to a 5-1 lead in the final set and never allowed TRU to get closer than four points the rest of the night. A wicked kill from Hilary Howe (Calgary), who finished with a team-high 18 kills, sealed the comeback victory for TWU.
Middle Kristin Anton (Prince George, B.C.) had an impressive night, earning a career-high 10 kills to go with nine blocks. Fellow middle Katelyn Devaney (Port Coquitlam, B.C.) had 10 kills, four aces and six blocks. Setter Brie King (Langley, B.C.) had 44 assists and 10 digs.
Yevgeniya Nyukhalova led TRU with 20 kills as well as 12 digs.
The win, which snapped a four-game winless skid, keeps the Spartans hopes of hosting a Canada West quarter-final series alive. The Spartans remain tied with Alberta, at 14-9, for fourth place in the conference.
The Pandas and Spartans are already set to faceoff in the quarter-finals, but the location of the best-of-three series is still up in the air. The Spartans need a win Saturday night against the WolfPack, coupled with an Alberta loss to secure fourth place and home court advantage for the quarter-finals.
TWU finished the night with 17 team blocks to TRU’s nine. The Spartans hit .242 on the night compared to TRU’s .168.
In the first set, the teams exchanged points until the Spartans went on a 3-0 run and jumped to a 10-7 lead prompting WolfPack head coach Chad Grimm to call a time out. That didn’t stop TWU, as they entered the technical time out up by six, 16-10. TRU battled back and cut the six point deficit tying things up and went up by one. That forced Spartans coach Ryan Hofer to bring his team in for a talk. That didn’t stop the Pack as they notched one more before losing service at 22-20. However, the Pack went onto take the set 25-22. Nyukhalova led the WolfPack offense with four kills in 13 chances. Howe had four kills in 12 swings to lead TWU, who had a solo block and eight block assists in the set.
The second set saw TWU jump to a 2-1 advantage. The Pack went on a 5-0 run to go up 6-2. TRU had a two-point advantage until the Spartans tied things up at 10. The teams exchanged points until TWU scored three in a row to lead 16-14 going into the time out. They continued that run notching six in a row until it was broken by a Mikayla Funk kill (18-16 TWU). The Pack then went on to score six in a row prompting to TWU to try and break the momentum by calling a time out, with TRU up 21-19. It succeeded. With the WolfPack leading 23-20, a couple of wild rallies and a big block pulled TWU back into it as they scored four straight to cut the margin to one. Eventually, a rocket by Nykuhalova gave the Pack the set at 25-23.
In the third, The Spartans got off to an early 3-2 lead before the WolfPack battled back to tie things at seven. It was TWU who led it by four (16-14) going into the time out. They went on to win the third set 25-19. Anton had six kills for the Spartans in the set. The WolfPack had five service errors in the set compared to one for TWU.
The Spartans jumped out to a 5-1 lead in the fourth set. TRU tied it up at six thanks to some nifty serving from Funk. The teams went back and forth until TWU reached the 16-point mark first, leading by one, at 16-15. The Spartans evened the match with a 25-22 victory.
Moving to the fifth set, the Spartans scored five of the first six points in the ‘race to 15,’ including a big double block by Anton and Howe to force TRU into a time out. The Spartans went on a 3-0 run to lead 8-3 as the team’s switched sides. The Spartans maintained their lead for the rest of the set as they went on to the victory.
TWU Head Coach Ryan Hofer
“We have had a couple of losses in there that were five setters, so it was nice to come away with the win. We had to figure out a few things serve/receive wise. TRU did a good job of exposing some things on our side and we had to clean that up. Kristin came in and did a wonderful job. Katie is a solid fifth-year for us. We will miss her down the road.”