LANGLEY, B.C. – The Spartans men’s volleyball team eclipsed a program record for aces in a 3-set match and defeated visiting UBC Okanagan in straight-sets (25-11, 25-11, 25-20) Saturday at the Langley Events Centre.
Mathias Elser’s (Calgary) ace midway through the second set broke the Spartans record, as TWU (15-1) ultimately recorded 17 aces to shatter their previous program-high mark of 13. The mark was also second most in a Spartans game of any length, trailing only the 19 aces recorded in a five-set win against Winnipeg (Jan. 24, 2004).
The Spartans have now achieved 13 aces or more in a 3-set match five separate times, with their most recent coming earlier this season against MacEwan (Nov. 1, 2019). It was TWU’s (15-1) 14th consecutive victory on the season.
Derek Epp (Saskatoon, Sask.) recorded a team-high five aces for TWU, which all came in the opening set. The scoring was spread throughout the Spartans lineup, as Eric Loeppky (Steinbach, Man.), Pearson Eshenko (Banff, Alta.), Jackson Howe (Calgary), Jesse Elser (Calgary) and Henry Rempel (Swift Current, Sask.) all recorded five or more kills.
Noah Campbell had four kills while hitting .333 for the Heat (0-14), while Owen Cotito added 12 assists.
The No. 1 ranked Spartans took complete control in the first set, nabbing the first point and leading the entirety of the way to take the first 25-11. TWU was led by Epp’s five service aces in the set, with Loeppky adding five kills. Max Heppell contributed three kills for the visitors, as UBC Okanagan hit .111 (5-3-18) compared to TWU’s .550 (12-1-20).
TWU kept rolling in the second set, picking up another eight service aces as a team and winning the second by an identical 25-11 score. Mathias Elser picked up 10 assists after taking over for Epp as the Spartans second set setter, while Campbell contributed two kills and two digs for the Heat.
The third set was a different story however, as the Heat fought their way to a relatively even score throughout. There were 11 tied scores throughout the frame, before the Spartans pulled away for the 25-20 set win.
Ben Josephson – TWU Head Coach
“We have a mantra we use with serving which we call ‘green chip serving’, and essentially that means your best chance of making high quality serves is through using your best serve every time. Mariano Rivera is the best closer in baseball and he excelled through using one single pitch – he knew how to locate and throw it consistently well under pressure – and that’s what we tried to really harp on this week for serving. Tonight, we served a lot better than we were last night. With UBC and Brandon coming up, we know we’re going to have to serve equally as well if we want to have any sort of chance playing against those teams. All in all, tonight was a great picture of what we can potentially be like from the baseline moving forward.
On learning lessons from yesterday
A lot of our emphasis lately has been on frontloading our communication, executing our game plan, and talking about what opposing teams are trying to do to us and how we’ll deal with that, and I think the guys responded very well tonight. We pulled our seniors aside, Eric Loeppky, Pearson Eshenko, Jacob Kern, and Derek Epp and asked them to take ownership on how to be catalysts and help us take the next step. From that side of things, it was a really productive match. That is what we most evidently got better at and it’s what I’m most proud of.
- TWU’s previous record of 13 aces in a 3-set match was recorded on five separate occasions. (Jan. 16, 2015, Feb. 13, 2015, Jan 13, 2017 and Nov. 1, 2019).
- TWU hit .441 (39-9-68), while UBC Okanagan hit .104 (16-11-48).
- Eric Loeppky (Steinbach, Man.) exits the weekend one ace shy of Paul Sanderson’s (2007-11) career conference record of 144, set with Brandon.
TWU will next play against UBC to take on the Thunderbirds next Friday and Saturday at the War Memorial Gym. – SOURCE: Trinity Western University