No. 1-ranked Trinity Western made Spartans women’s volleyball history, as the TWU beat Thompson Rivers 3-1 (23-25, 25-17, 25-18, 25-18) Saturday to finish the year with a best-ever 22-2 regular season record.
This year’s record eclipses the Spartans previous best in 2016-17 when the team finished the season with a 21-3 record. TWU’s two losses this year is the fewest in program history.
The victory capped a weekend sweep of the WolfPack, which saw TWU clinch first place in Canada West and home court advantage throughout the playoffs.
TWU will now prepare to host Winnipeg in the Canada West Quarter-Finals (best-of-three) Feb. 20-22 at the Langley Events Centre.
Saturday’s win also sees TWU finish the regular season riding an eight-match winning streak. TWU was also a perfect 12-0 on the road in the regular season.
Savannah Purdy (Victoria) had a match-high 13 kills while first-year Jayden Bontkes (Langley, B.C.) had an impressive night, registering a career-high 10 kills and 14 digs. Fellow first-year Jayda Harder (Waldheim, Sask.) had a regular season career-high six kills and five blocks. Fifth-year Jessica Bailey (Surrey, B.C.) also had a career-high five blocks. Setter Olivia Heinen (Abbotsford, B.C.) led the Spartans offence with 23 assists.
Kendra Finch has nine kills and 13 digs to lead TRU, while Elizabeth Reimer had a team-high five blocks.
As a team, TWU hit .186 compared to the WolfPack’s .092.
The WolfPack edged the Spartans in the first set on the strength of 14 kills and a .222 hitting percentage. TWU was held to a .150 hitting percentage and 12 kills.
However, after that, TWU took control. The Spartans held TRU to a -.026 hitting percentage in the second set to roll to an eight-point win.
From there, TWU earned back-to-back seven-point wins to seal the victory, hitting .264 over the final two sets.
A last-minute goal was the difference as the Trinity Western Spartans fell 3-2 to Vancouver Island on the road Saturday at the Nanaimo Ice Centre.
Goaltender Lucas Mills (Burnaby, B.C.) made 37 saves in the loss for TWU (17-2-0-1), while Evan Last (Surrey, B.C.) and Brayden Brown (Calgary) picked up goals for the Spartans.
Adam Morton, Seth Schmidt and Alex Hanson had singles for Vancouver Island (10-7-0-2), while Mariners goaltender Jeremy Balyk made 33 saves for his ninth win of the season.
Less than 10 seconds after Spartans defenceman Dustin Deugau (Calgary) hit the post of a wrist shot, he connected with Last on a cross ice-pass to bury the Spartans opening goal on a one-timer and make it 1-0 TWU with 5:56 left in the first period.
The second period saw no scoring, despite the Mariners peppering Mills with 19 shots. TWU was also unable to beat Mariners goaltender Balyk in the frame, putting up 17 shots on net.
Vancouver Island finally beat Mills early in the third period, as Morton scored on a one-timer in the slot just 22 seconds into the period to tie the game up at 1-1. Another Mariners blueliner then gave the home side the lead, as Schmidt scored at 11:50 on the power play to make it 2-1.
Just over a minute later TWU responded, with Brown tipping a Travis Verveda (Alix, Alta.) shot just a foot from the goaltender Balyk to tie the game back up at 2-2.
With just 28 seconds left, Hanson buried a Seth Schmidt pass to lift the Mariners to victory.
TWU went 0 for 2 on the powerplay, while the Mariners were 1 for 7 (14.3%).
Playing a young lineup in the Spartans final game of the regular season, Trinity Western lost 3-0 (25-23, 25-22, 25-23) against Thompson Rivers Saturday at the Tournament Capital Centre.
With first place in Canada West locked up last week, the Spartans rolled out a young group in their regular season finale and it was a trio of first-year players leading the team statically, with Henry Rempel (Swift Current, Sask.) collecting a match-high 10 kills, Mathias Elser (Calgary) earning a match-high 30 assists and Isaiah Olfert (Winnipeg) nabbing three aces.
The loss, which comes as the team prepares for the Canada West Quarter-Finals, ends TWU’s 19-match winning streak and also snaps a 26-match winning streak against the WolfPack. The last time the Spartans lost against TRU was Nov. 5, 2010 (3-2).
The Spartans (20-2) will now prepare to host Mount Royal in the Canada West Quarter-Finals Feb. 20-22 (best-of-three) at the Langley Events Centre. The Cougars finished eighth in the Canada West standings with a 9-13 record. The series will mark the first time TWU had MRU have faced each other in the post-season.
With TWU’s men’s team finishing first in Canada West, the 2019-20 campaign marks the first time in Spartans history that both the men’s and women’s volleyball teams captured the conference titles in the same season. Both teams are also ranked No. 1 in U SPORTS.
TRU was led by fifth-year Charlie Bringloe, who had eight kills and three aces, and fellow fifth-year Sam Taylor-Parks, who had a match-high six blocks.
All three sets were tight, but it was the WolfPack pulling out the wins late in each of them, with TRU finishing the night hitting .234 while the Spartans hit .183.
TRU won the blocking battle 9-3, but the Spartans had the edge in kills (33-27), assists (33-25) and digs (22-15).