The Trinity Western Spartans captured the Canada West women's volleyball banner for the first time in program history. The team now looks to win their first ever CIS banner as they are the top seed at the national championships this week in Toronto.

The Trinity Western Spartans captured the Canada West women's volleyball banner for the first time in program history. The team now looks to win their first ever CIS banner as they are the top seed at the national championships this week in Toronto.

Spartans top Pandas to claim first Canada West title

Trinity Western women’s volleyball team rallies from 0-2 down to knock off top-seed Alberta in Canada West championship

  • Feb. 23, 2015 10:00 a.m.

For the first time in program history, the Trinity Western Spartans are the Canada West champions.

The women’s volleyball program accomplished that feat on Friday, upsetting the top-seed Alberta Pandas on the Pandas home court, the Saville Community Sports Centre, in Edmonton.

In six previous trips to the Canada West Final Four championships, the Spartans had won three silver and three bronze medals.

And the Spartans — who had already qualified for the CIS national championships with a victory the day before in the Canada West semifinals — looked destined for another runner-up finish after Alberta won the first two sets, 25-23 and 25-17. But the Spartans rallied, winning 25-21 and 25-23 to force a fifth and deciding set, which they won 17-15.

“They’ve been working hard, even in practices, to never back down and never stop fighting,” said coach Ryan Hofer.

“When someone makes a mistake, just keep swinging and that’s what they kept telling each other (in the final).”

Trinity Western was led by Sophie Carpentier, who had 18 kills, while Alicia Perrin had 14 kills and five blocks. Royal Richardson came off the bench to spark the team in the fourth set with her team down 9-3, finishing with eight kills and three blocks.

Richardson was named player of the game while Perrin was the Final Four MVP.

The Spartans, the top-blocking team in the country, only had a 13-11 advantage in the final, but five of the blocks came in the fifth set.

“It was such a rewarding experience for everybody. To see the team pull together and play really hard and never give up, to feel that we did a lot of good things to help each other play the best, perform our best, was really rewarding,” Hofer said.

Finally winning that elusive Canada West banner was rewarding, but the end goal remains the same: win the program’s first CIS banner.

The Spartans have won bronze in both 2011 and 2013.

“It is always tougher than you expect,” Hofer said about winning the Canada West title, explaining that it takes a lot of work off the court as well.

“You have to put so many details in place in order for it to happen. You need a little luck, a little bit of skill, a little bit of grit and fight and we were able to find that combination.”

The Spartans leave today (Tuesday) for Toronto for the CIS national championships. Trinity Western is ranked No. 1 for the tournament and will play the No. 8 Laval Rouge et Or in Thursday’s quarter-finals.

Since losing four straight matches in late October — which left the team with a 3-4 league record — Trinity Western has won 20 of the past 21 regular season and playoff matches.