Burnaby – Fourth-year Trinity Western star Ja’Qualyn Gilbreath (Amarillo, Texas) was one assist shy of a triple-double, but the Spartans came up just short against NCAA Div. II Simon Fraser, falling 98-93 in exhibition action Saturday afternoon.
Gilbreath had 30 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists to lead the Spartans in a tight battle that saw TWU hold a 93-92 lead with 1:17 to play. However, a 3-pointer from SFU’s Michael Hannan with just under a minute to play gave the home side an advantage it wouldn’t relinquish. Free throws down the stretch sealed the win for the Clan, who ware now 2-1 in their preseason schedule.
Second-year Isaiah Reimer (Abbotsford, B.C.) added 21 points for the Spartans, while fifth-year Ethan DaSilva (Calgary) had a game-high 10 assists.
After the teams were tied 47-47 at halftime, the Spartans went down by 20 points (77-57) midway through the second half, only to see a valiant comeback effort from the visitors. TWU chipped away at the Clan lead before a 3-pointer from Reimer put the Spartans briefly ahead with just over a minute to play.
The exhibition contest came during a bye week for the Spartans, who are currently 0-4 in Canada West.
By comparison, Saturday’s result was a marked improvement for the now Trevor Pride-coached Spartans, who lost 127-75 against SFU less than a year ago (Dec. 30, 2018).
The No. 2-ranked Trinity Western women’s volleyball team put together the second most efficient attacking match in program history, as the Spartans hit .488 as a team to roll to a 3-0 (25-12, 25-12, 25-22) win over Manitoba Saturday evening at Investors Group Athletic Centre.
The Spartans set the tone for an outstanding evening with an otherworldly opening set that saw TWU earn 20 kills while hitting .731 and committing just one error. From there, TWU continued to push its agenda, running away with its seventh consecutive three-set victory to improve to 8-0. The loss drops Manitoba to 2-6. With the win, TWU has also now won 24 sets in a row.
Star fourth-year outside Hilary Howe (Calgary) led the Spartans offence, putting together an errorless .647 hitting percentage while collecting 11 kills to go with three aces and seven digs. Mikaelyn Sych (Airdrie, Alta.) also had double-digit kills with 10 at a .643 percentage.
Second-year Meaghan Mealey (Calgary) had one of her best nights as a Spartan, picking up four kills on five attempts without an error and adding three blocks. Ansah Odoom (Surrey, B.C.) had nine kills and hit .571 while Avery Heppell (Langley, B.C.) had seven kills and hit .545.
Olivia Heinen (Abbotsford, B.C.) had 29 assists while Dora Komlodi (Calgary) had 11 assists.
Manitoba, who struggled with consistency in the first two sets before a valiant fight in the third, were led by first-year middle Jaidyn Spencer, who had a perfect five kills on five attempts. Laura Hill and Allison Alcock chipped in four kills apiece.
The Spartans jumped out extremely strong in the first set. Two kills from Howe and three from Odoom highlighted a 13-4 start, as TWU was able to set up their attack with little resistance from the Bisons side, eventually winning 25-12.
Trinity Western would win the second set by the same count, this time thanks to an outstanding service run from Komlodi, who stood behind the line and started ten straight point wins to take the Spartans lead from 11-9 to 21-9.
In the third, some substitutions paid off for the Bisons, who were able to set up their offence with more efficiency. Second-year libero Jordan Hamm had some great first touches, as the Bison were able to hit .265 and keep the set tied until 20-20. After that, the dominant players for the Spartans closed the door. Heppell had a kill and Howe had two more, and they finished with a 25-22 win.
The No. 1 Trinity Western Spartans (7-1) dominated play at the Investors Group Athletic Centre on Saturday evening, beating the Manitoba Bisons (3-3) in straight sets (25-16, 25-20, 25-18).
The Spartans established their athleticism and skill early on in the match, building significant leads in the first two sets. A competitive start to the third set also ended up tipping in Trinity Western’s favour, as the Spartans won nine out of the last 12 points late to secure a quick victory.
Second-year Jesse Elser (Calgary) led the visitors with eight kills on 15 attempts (.200), while third-year Jackson Howe (Calgary) had his second straight ultra-efficient performance — recording five kills at a .833 hitting percentage, which came after a 10-kill, .714 match on Friday. The Spartans also won that match in straight sets.
The victory marked TWU coach Ben Josephson’s 200th career regular season win. Josephson has an all-time regular season record of 200-62 (.763 winning percentage).
For Manitoba, third-year Owen Schwartz led the team with seven kills, while Ben Carleton added five. First-year middle Darian Koskie recorded three service aces.
In the first set, TWU built a lead quickly by scoring seven of the first eight points. Two of those points came on blocks, as Howe and Brodie Hofer (Langley, B.C.) made strong plays at the net. Though Manitoba would trade points with them through the rest of the set, they weren’t able to get a run of their own going — eventually yielding the set, 25-16.
The two teams traded four-point runs early in the second set, as Koskie recorded two aces for the home team. Down 21-14 late, Manitoba climbed back into the set thanks to a block and two excellent setups from setter Dylan Sutherland. A 5-1 run by the Bisons cut the Spartans lead to three (22-19), but two kills from Elser helped secured the set for the Spartans, 25-20.
TWU found a similar run midway through the third to build a 17-10 lead — this one including two kills from Hofer. They went on to finish the match with a 25-18 win.