Langley/Calagry – US Thanksgiving was kind to the TWU Spartans. (Even though all their games were on this side of the 49th).
Trinity Western defenceman Elijah Vilio (Aldergrove, B.C.) scored the overtime winner off an end-to-end rush to give the Spartans a 4-3 win over Simon Fraser and send TWU into the Christmas break with a perfect 9-0 record.
Taking the puck behind his own net, Vilio raced down the left wing, beat the SFU defenceman wide, cut to the middle and tucked the puck under Clan netminder Andrew Henderson on TWU’s 50th shot of the night.
The goal secured a comeback victory that saw the Spartans rally from a 3-2 third period deficit to force overtime after a goal from Elijah’s brother Kade Vilio (Aldergrove, B.C.).
Joseph Sylvain (Girouxville, Alta.) and Dustin Deugau (Calgary) also scored for TWU, while SFU’s Trevor Ayre tallied twice and Mitch Ledyard added a single.
The win puts a bow on TWU’s most dominant first semester in program history.
The loss drops the Clan to 4-5-0-2.
The Spartans opened scoring less than three minutes into the game, when Sylvain jumped on a rebound off a TWU two-on-one and banged it home from on top of the crease for his first of the year.
TWU doubled its lead early in the second period, with Deugau snapping home a quick shot off the right wing on an odd-man rush. Evan Last (Surrey, B.C.) picked up an assist on the goal, which put him into the top 10 all-time amongst BCIHL scorers. Last added a helper on Vilio’s game-winner, as he now has 36 goals and 73 assists in 77 career games.
The Clan roared back, scoring three goals over the final 10:43 of the middle frame, sparked by Ayre’s first of the period, tipping home a point shot from Eric Callegari.
Ayre scored his second on the power play at 10:49 of the period, jumping on a rebound in the slot and backhanding the puck in.
Ledyard rounded out the second period scoring with 1:28 left in the second, taking a nifty pass from Arjun Badh from behind the net and whipping a shot from the slot past Mills.
Less than four minutes into the third period, the Spartans equalized with Vilio sneaking through a pair of SFU blueliners and slipping it in for his third goal of the season.
Barret Kropf – TWU Head Coach
“Our teams are pretty evenly matched and that was evident tonight. They were coming in off a couple of tough losses, so they came out pretty hungry. Even though we had that early lead, they had a lot of pushback. Then we just had to hit the reset button in the second intermission and we showed that we have the confidence in each other to just stick to our game plan. I also thought our speed was good and we were really disciplined tonight.
“Obviously with the 9-0 record, it’s our best start ever. It’s one of those things where we have a lot of confidence and we have a lot of trust within the locker room. The break comes at a great time, so we can get healthy and hopefully we can continue with that confidence over the break and just fine-tune a few things.”
· Dating back to the 2018-19 playoffs and regular season, the Spartans have won 14 straight BCIHL games.
· TWU has outscored its opposition 49-24 this season, leading the BCIHL with +25 goal margin.
· The Spartans are 3-0 against the Clan this season, winning 3-2 (Oct. 24) at home and 5-4 (Nov. 2) on the road.
· TWU’s longest winning streak is 11 games, which the Spartans put together in 2017-18.
TWU now enters the Christmas break before returning to BCIHL action Jan. 4-5 with a trip to Castlegar, B.C. to play Selkirk.
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.
Pearson Eshenko (Banff, Alta.) had a match-high eight blocks while picking up six kills and hitting .455. Setter Derek Epp (Saskatoon) had 35 assists in the three-set win.
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).
The No. 1 Trinity Western Spartans held off hard-serving Calgary Dinos side to earn a 3-2 (25-20,18-25, 25-22,17-25,15-13) win in a back and forth battle Thursday.
Fourth-year Spartan Hilary Howe (Calgary) took care of the majority of the offensive volume tonight, coming away with a double-double, with 17 kills and 13 digs to help TWU improve to 10-1 on the year. Second-year Savannah Purdy (Victoria) added 11 kills while fellow second-year Avery Heppell (Langley, B.C.) had nine kills from the middle with just one attacking error and fifth-year middle Mikaelyn Sych (Airdrie, Alta.) had nine blocks.
TWU setter Dora Komlodi (Calgary) had 35 assists while libero Emma Gamache (Abbotsford, B.C.) had 14 digs.
On the Dinos side, Lexi Peart led a balanced attack with a match-high 45 assists, dishing out 12 kills to Beth Vinnell and 13 to both Trinity Solecki and Adriel Goodman. The Dinos (2-9) had an impressive night at the serving line, in which they came away with 17 total aces.
TWU, who had 11 aces, countered with a 14-10 edge in blocks.
The first set of the night started off slow for the Dinos as they learned to adapt around the Spartans far-reaching blocks. Trinity Western edged the Dinos with a .433 hitting accuracy, ultimately leading them to a five-point win.
In round two, the Dinos quickly found their offensive momentum and played their best set of the season at home. The defending CW champion Spartans dropped the set after a service ace from Autumn Davidson sealed the 25-18 win.
The third set swung back TWU’s way with the Spartans winning a close set after a kill from Purdy.
Not to be denied, the underdog Dinos had their most impressive set of the night in the fourth frame, hitting .259 to the Spartans .029 to win by eight points and force a fifth set.
Set five went TWU’s way early on, as two service aces from Heppell gave the Spartans a 7-3 lead. But Calgary clawed its way back to tie up the game at 11-11, but a kill from Howe eventually propelled the Spartans across the finish line.
Ryan Hofer – TWU Head Coach
“It was a really tough game tonight. Calgary played really well. They really tested our receive and we had to learn to adjust and learn to find ways to score. They did a good job defensively and we just had to be patient and find our opportunities. I’m really proud of the team in the end for staying calm through it all and working through some frustrations and finding a way to win.”
· The game marked a rematch of last year’s Canada West final, which the Spartans won in three sets.
· Including last year’s conference final, TWU has won five straight matches against the Dinos and the Spartans are 14-3 against Calgary over the last eight seasons.
· Howe has now had 13 or more kills in all 10 of TWU’s 11 matches this season.
The Spartans will close out the semester Friday with the rematch against Calgary at 6 p.m. (MT).