TWU Spartans take on Manitoba in volleyball

The road game went better for the men’s team than the women’s.

Trinity Western University’s men’s volleyball team remained No. 1 in the latest U SPORTS Top 10, while the women’s volleyball team slots in at No. 9.

On the women’s side, Manitoba upset eighth-ranked TWU in four sets (20-25, 25-19, 25-19, 25-17) last Friday at the Investors Group Athletic Centre.

The loss snaps the Spartans’ 10-match winning streak. With the home win, Manitoba moves to a record of 6-9 while TWU drops to 11-4.

The fourth and final set turned the Bisons way midway through the set after consecutive kills from the Bisons put Manitoba up 10-8.

Ayiya Ottogo continued a Bisons point streak as the Spartans struggled to get control on serve receive. Eventually, a left-side kill by Ottogo brought the hosts to set point and a strike off the hands clinched the fourth set for the Bisons.

Katie Devaney (Port Coquitlam) equaled her career-high for blocks, with 13, while Avery Heppell (Langley) and Hilary Howe (Calgary) had 12 kills apiece to lead TWU. Libero Rachel Flink (Surrey) had a career-high 22 digs. Her previous best was 20, which she recorded Jan. 20, 2017 against UBC Okanagan.

Kearley Abbott had a match-high 18 kills to lead Manitoba.

The Bisons maintained a solid wall in the first set but couldn’t capitalize off their own opportunities. TWU led in scoring for much of the set. A well-battled rally ended with the Spartans clinching set point with a five-point edge.

A nine-point streak enabled the Herd to pull ahead of the Spartans midway through the second set. A back pocket kill by the Spartans broke the scoring streak and enabled TWU to come within four points for the first time since the start of the set. Laura Findlay had an impressive spike, serve, kill combo late in the game, bringing the Bisons within two of set point at 23-16 before eventually closing it out with a six-point win.

Both teams came to play in the third set, back-and-forth play lent neither team the opportunity to get an early lead. However, Manitoba pulled ahead thanks to a string of important kills.

The Spartans gave up a serve receive late, enabling the Bisons to pull within set point. Emily Erickson made a notable middle kill to secure the third set win for the Herd.

The men’s volleyball team earned back-to-back road wins over then No. 9 Manitoba to improve to 15-1 on the season. The Spartans have sat atop the national rankings all season.

The women’s volleyball team dropped one spot in the U SPORTS poll after splitting with Manitoba. TWU is now 12-4 on the season.

Also playing Manitoba, the TWU men’s team kept their winning streak going with a 3-1 (19-25, 25-16, 25-20, 25-18) road win over the No. 9 Manitoba Bisons.

With the away win, TWU’s record moves to 14-1 with a 10-match winning streak and Manitoba falls to 6-9. The contest was a rematch of last year’s Canada West gold medal match, which TWU won in five sets on the Bisons home floor.

The Spartans broke from back-and-forth play midway through the fourth set to lead 14-11 and rolled from there.

Riley Vander Meulen (Edmonton) finished a rally for the Spartans, securing them a comfortable lead at 19-15, while an attacking error by the home team put TWU within five of set point. A calculated spike from Eric Loeppky (Steinbach, Man.) moved the Spartans within two points of set point before TWU won the final set 25-18.

Loeppky had a match-high 22 kills, while Pearson Eshenko (Banff, Alta.) and Loeppky had seven blocks each. Setter Adam Schriemer (Winnipeg) had 45 assists.

Scott Vercaigne had a team-high 13 kills for Manitoba.

The Herd led early in the first set and maintained their lead throughout, eventually winning it 25-19.

A block by Brendan Warren got an untouched kill for the home side which was followed by another block that sent the ball straight down on the Spartans side moving the home team within two points of set point. The Spartans tried to pick up momentum as set point neared, getting a five-point streak but the Bisons eventually took the set by six points.

TWU shut the hosts down with a string of blocks and aces as the Herd struggled with their serve receive in the latter half of the second set. The Spartans won the set off a serving error by the home team, 25-16.

Although Manitoba started the third set strong, TWU caught up fast to force its way into a very back-and-forth game. Throughout the set, the Bisons worked hard to play with the Spartans but they capitalized off their strong blocking, which was unanswered by the home team. A series of monster spikes let the Spartans move to within one point of winning the set, eventually leading to a 25-20 win thanks to a kill earned from a wall formed by Loeppky and Eshenko.

Both volleyball teams return home to host Regina Jan. 19-20 at the Langley Events Centre. All home games will be streamed live at www.canadawest.tv.

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