CALGARY – The No. 1-ranked Trinity Western Spartans extended their streak to 27 consecutive sets with a 3-0 win over a scrappy University of Calgary Dinos squad Thursday night (25-23, 25-23, 25-16).
With the Jackson Howe (Calgary) having another outstanding game on the attack, the hometown boy finished the night with 11 kills and just one attacking error while hitting .625 to go with four blocks. He was joined on the TWU attack by Eric Loeppky (Steinbach, Man.) who had 10 kills, a team-high 10 digs and four blocks to help TWU improve to 10-1.
Mac McNicol led the Dinos (5-4), offering up 12 kills and two service aces on the night. With both Hamish Hazelden and Parker Siroishka out with injuries, it was Reece Lehman who stepped in and put up six kills for the Dinos. The third-year Lehman played a key role in the Dinos strong performance through the first and second sets.
TWU finished the night with a 12-3 edge in blocks and a hitting percentage of .337 compared to Calgary’s .235.
With the Dinos putting up a fight in the first set and threatening TWU’s 24-set streak, the Spartans looked to Howe to smother the Dinos power at the net. The third-year Calgary native posted two consecutive points for the Spartans late in the first to help TWU clinch the set.
The Dinos came to play in the second set, going up 7-3. With the surging Dinos once again threatening, the Spartans rallied with four consecutive points halfway through the set to tie things up 14-14. With both teams trading points on the back of strong performances by the fifth-year McNicol and the fourth-year Loepkky, it was Howe who once again finished off the set with a kill for the Spartans.
The duo of McNicol and Liam Laidlaw offered up three consecutive kills early in the third to put the Dinos up by two, 4-2, early on. With Calgary holding its two-point lead at 12-10, the Spartans put together a set-defining 10-1 run. From there, TWU cruised to the finish line with Loeppky earning the match-winning kill.
Ben Josephson – TWU Head Coach
“It was a really competitive game. I thought the Dinos did a really good job of running their middle players, especially in the first two sets. Those guys were a handful. They ran a couple patterns we hadn’t seen. The setter did a good job of mixing in the other guys and we were under a lot of pressure from their offence for the first two sets. Then, somewhere around the 16-point mark in the second set, I thought we did a really good job of adjusting in our block defence phase and made some transitions and some stops. The second half of the match we had really good block defence. The first half of the match, the Dinos did a great job of running their offence. Now we’ll try to figure out how to control some of those things they did early and how to replicate the things we did late and we’ll go at it again tomorrow night.”
• TWU hasn’t lost a set since Oct. 19 when the Spartans dropped a five-set match on the road against Alberta.
• The Spartans Loeppky leads Canada West in hitting percentage (.440), Eshenko leads CW in blocks per set (1.58) and Epp leads the conference in assists per set (10.52). Jesse Elser (Calgary) is second in CW in aces per set (0.67).
• After Friday’s game against Calgary, TWU will prepare to play in the Can Am Volleyball Holiday Showcase in Toronto where the Spartans will face defending NCAA Div. I champion Long Beach State (Dec. 28), as well as UCLA (Dec. 29) and Lewis University (Dec. 31).
The Spartans will wrap up their fall semester with a rematch against the Dinos Friday at 7:30 p.m. (MT).
About Spartan Athletics
As official members of U SPORTS, the Spartans currently compete in 11 sports in the Canada West conference, including women’s and men’s soccer, volleyball, basketball, cross country and track & field, as well as women’s rugby sevens. TWU also competes in the British Columbia Intercollegiate Hockey League (BCIHL) in men’s hockey and as an independent team in men’s rugby. The men’s and women’s hockey programs will begin playing in Canada West and U SPORTS in 2020-21. Since TWU entered U SPORTS in 1999, the Spartans have won 12 U SPORTS team championships and 27 Canada West team championships and two BCIHL championships.
[SOURCE: Trinity Western University]