It was a battle of the best teams in Canada West, but the No. 1 ranked Spartans women’s volleyball team prevailed over No. 5 Mount Royal Friday in straight sets at the Langley Events Centre.
With the win, the Trinity Western University’s Spartans improved to a conference best 14-1 record, three wins clear of the second place Cougars (11-2).
Hilary Howe (Calgary) added 12 kills, five serving aces and five digs for TWU, while Dora Komlodi (Calgary) added three serving aces and 17 assists in the win.
Nyadholi Thokbuom added team highs with eight kills and three serving aces for the Cougars, with Quinn Pelland adding six digs alongside 20 aces.
TWU opened the first set on a 5-1 run, before Mount Royal would storm back to take an 18-15 lead. The Spartans however would take 10 of final 12 points to win the first set 25-20.
Both teams finished the set with 8 kills, with the Cougars accounting for nine errors as opposed to TWU’s three, explained TWU’s head coach Ryan Hofer.
The Spartans carried their momentum into the second set going on a 10-3 run to start. After the Cougars narrowed the lead to 22-17, the Spartans once again took control to take the second set 25-17.
Mount Royal then opened the third set on an 9-1 run, before the Spartans crawled back to within three points at 9-6 with Komlodi serving. With both teams trading points throughout the majority of the second set, TWU ultimately took its first lead of the set late at 25-24, before taking the final point to win the game in straight sets.
“Other than it being a serving war out there I think both teams were just looking for opportunities to put each other in a little bit of trouble. Either team had the capacity to go up six points and come back from six points,” Hofer said.
“They’re a great team and this is their first game back in a long time, so we’re expecting they’re going to be making adjustments to be ready to go again tomorrow. They’re well coached and have a great bunch of athletes, so I expect both teams to serve really well and go toe-to-toe again tomorrow.
On rallying from behind in the third set, the head coach was optimistic.
“We wanted to believe we could come back. We knew everyone who went to the service line during that third set needed to serve at least two or three balls. The team did a great job at finding a way to do that.”
TWU was coming off a pair of straight set victories on the road over Regina last weekend, while the Cougars were coming off a bye week.
The Spartans improve their perfect record to 19-0 against Mount Royal since 2013, losing just six sets over that span.
The series also marks the first meeting between the two teams since TWU’s conference quarter-final win at home in late February of last year.
As for what’s up next, the Spartans were once again expected to take on No. 5 Mount Royal Saturday afternoon at the Langley Events Centre.
Men’s volleyball team triumphs, too
Meanwhile, the No. 1 ranked Trinity Western Spartans men’s volleyball team returned home to also defeat Mount Royal in straight sets (25-13, 25-20, 25-15) for its first home victory of the New Year Friday at the Langley Events Centre.
With the win, the Spartans (12-1) improved their program best consecutive sets streak to 33. The men’s win was also TWU’s 11th consecutive in conference play.
It was a full team effort for TWU, with Jacob Kern (Edmonton) contributing a game high eight kills, while Brodie Hofer (Langley) hit a perfect .1000 along with six kills, three serving aces and five digs.
The first set saw both teams keep pace with each other early, as Mount Royal (4-9) stayed within a point of the No. 1 ranked Spartans at 8-7. Then TWU took over, courtesy of nine consecutive points – including two serving aces from fifth-year middle Pearson Eshenko (Banff, Alta.).
The Cougars once again kept up with TWU early in the second set, before the Spartans broke the tie at 7-6 and never looked back, winning 25-20. Hofer contributed four second set kills on four attempts, while TWU came out of the second set hitting .400.
The third set was much of the same, as TWU got contributions from its deep lineup throughout the third set to close out the set 25-15 for the win, said assistant coach Ben Ball.
The Spartans have still yet to lose a set in conference play since Oct. 19, against Alberta (3-2).
“Right off the bat our guys were sharing a ton of information with each other before the serves. With everything that was different with our lineup that definitely helped them not have to think too hard,” Ball said.
“We were pretty clean overall today. Our serve pressure was strong – maybe a few too many misses but we were getting results, so we were okay with that. Into the third set we may have gotten a little too sloppy and lost some focus, but the guys were still all saying the right things and pushing each other.”
TWU head coach Ben Josephson is not with the team, as he is currently coaching with Canada’s senior women’s team as part of the Olympic qualifying tournament.
First-place TWU returned to Langley after a Can Am Tournament (Dec. 28-21) in Toronto that saw them defeat NCAA champion Long Beach State (3-2), before a pair of sweeps over UCLA and Lewis.
The Spartans more recently played a trio of exhibition games on the road last weekend, defeating Brock University (3-0) before a pair of losses to No. 4 McMaster (3-2, 3-1).
TWU has won eight consecutive games against the Cougars, dating back to Nov. 28, 2015. TWU also holds a 14-2 record over its last 16 games against Mount Royal.
The boys, too, were set for a rematch against Mount Royal Saturday afternoon at LEC.