Trinity Western and Brandon will play a series-deciding Game 3 in the Canada West semifinals after the Bobcats edged the Spartans in a five-set thriller, winning 3-2 (25-23, 21-25, 27-25, 19-25, 16-14) Friday at the Langley Events Centre.
Mason Metcalf won the match with a game-winning block in the fifth set to seal the win for Brandon, as the defending Canada West Champion Bobcats will play the defending national champion
Eric Loeppky (Steinbach, Man.) had a team-high 22 kills, while Jackson Howe (Calgary) added 11 kills hitting .562. Jacob Kern (Edmonton) and Derek Epp (Saskatoon, Sask.) each had nine digs for the Spartans, with Epp adding 52 assists.
Robin Baghdady led the way for the Bobcats, posting 18 kills, three service aces and four digs, while Elliott Viles had 16 kills and five digs for defending Canada West champion Brandon.
Both teams opened the first set evenly, trading leads frequently with a total of 17 tie scores. Despite a tie score at 23-23, kills from Baghdady and Warkentin sealed the first set for the Bobcats.
After a 3-3 score in the second set, kills from Loeppky and Jesse Elser (Calgary) gave the Spartans a 5-3 edge. TWU would hold the lead for the rest of the way to take the second set 25-21 and tie the game up 1-1.
After the Spartans opened the third set on a 16-10 run to take a commanding lead, the Bobcats went on a 10-4 run of their own to tie the game back up. Brandon would then edge out the Spartans by two points late to take a 2-1 lead in the match.
On the brink of losing Game 2, the Spartans came out strong in the fourth set, jumping out to a 12-6 lead. The Spartans would then lead the rest of the way, highlighted by five kills and a block from Howe before taking the fourth 25-19.
Despite both teams trading points up to a 10-10 tie in the fifth set, the Bobcats would close out the match with a 16-14 fifth set victory.
After falling 3-2 in Thursday’s opening match, the Trinity Western Spartans responded with a 3-0 victory over the Thompson Rivers WolfPack Friday night to even the best-of-three Canada West semifinal at 1-1.
The No. 1 Spartans blocking and serving were the difference in tonight’s match. TWU had an impressive 14-3 edge in total blocks while finishing with eight service aces, with only six errors, while No. 7 Thompson Rivers finished with five aces and 12 errors.
Fourth-year outside hitter Hilary Howe (Calgary) with 11 kills, and five digs and second year outside Savannah Purdy (Victoria) with six kills and 13 digs led the Spartans attack. While fifth-year outside Kendra Finch (North Vancouver, B.C.) with eight kills, and 12 digs and second year outside Olga Savenchuk (Donetsk, Ukraine) with six killS, eight digs, and two aces led the WolfPack attack. TWU third-year setter Dora Komlodi (Calgary) finished the night with 19 set assists for the Spartans, while TRU’s third-year setter Anastasiia Muzyka (Poltawa, Ukraine) finished with 17 assists for the WolfPack.
Unlike Thursday night, the Spartans had a strong start to Friday’s match. TWU was able to take an early 8-5 lead to start the evening. Thompson Rivers was able to recover ground and tie Trinity Western 9-9. The Spartans then took their serving run to take a 16-13 lead at the technical timeout. TWU maintained at least a two-point lead for the remainder of the set, before closing the set out with a 6-2 run to take the early 25-21 lead. TWU had a sideout efficiency of 85 percent (18-21) in the opening set, while TRU finished at 68 percent (15-22). The Spartans had five blocks, while holding the WolfPack to a .098 attack efficiency. TWU finished at .237 efficiency in the opening set.
Again in contrast to Thursday night the Spartans continued their strong play to take the second set 25-22. The two teams were even early, 7-7, before the Spartans used a 9-6 run to take a 16-13 lead into the technical timeout. The WolfPack rallied out of the break to tie the match at 19-19 as TWU took a timeout. The Spartans came back on the floor and quickly established control with Ansah Odoom (Surrey, B.C.) serving and TWU’s Purdy, and fifth year-middle Mikaelyn Sych (Airdrie, Alta.) blocking the Spartans to three straight points to give TWU a 22-19 lead. Trinity Western maintained the buffer to close out the second set and take a 2-0 lead on Thompson Rivers. The Spartans blocking was even better in the second set, finishing with six blocks, while the WolfPack did not register a block in the set. TWU hit at .259, while TRU hit at .182 in the second set.
The third set had the two teams going back-and-forth early. TRU opened with a 4-1 lead, before TWU used Sych’s serving to take go on a 5-0 run to take a 6-4 lead. The Spartans maintained the lead to 13-11, before the WolfPack outscored TWU 5-2 to give TRU a 16-15 lead at the technical timeout. The WolfPack came out of the break with a 3-0 run take a 19-15 lead on the Spartans. Then with TRU up 21-17 TWU closed the gap quickly, with a 5-1 run to tie the match at 22-22. The Spartans were not finished as they carried the momentum with three more points to take the set 25-22 and the match 3-0.
The league-leading Trinity Western Spartans closed out the BCIHL regular season with a 3-2 loss to Simon Fraser Friday at George Preston Arena.
Evan Last (Surrey, B.C.) scored his league-leading 16th goal of the season in the loss, while goaltender Lucas Mills (Burnaby, B.C.) made 42 saves for TWU. Logan Casavant (Melfort, Sask.) also scored for the Spartans.
Despite the result, TWU finished the season with its second-best regular season record at 19-4-0-1. The Spartans 19 wins were second most in program history, behind only the 21 wins in 25 games set in 2017/18.
Arjun Badh, Ty Westgard and Domenic Masellis all scored for Simon Fraser (13-7-0-2), while Patrick Zubick picked up 46 saves in the win. The win pushed the Clan four points ahead of third-place Vancouver Island for second in the BCIHL.
Despite a collective 26 first period shots between the two teams, both Zubick and Mills shut the door for a scoreless first.
Masellis then broke the scoreless tie just 19 seconds into the second period, beating Mills with a one-timer from the point off a faceoff to make it 1-0. TWU would counter however, as Last scored off his own rebound on the power play at 7:59 to make it 1-1.
Simon Fraser would tally again in the third, with Badh roofing a shot to the right of Mills with just 6:54 left to make it 2-1. Westgard would add another under two minutes left to extend the Clan lead to two goals.
Despite a goal from Casavant with 1:09 to play, the Saprtans would fall to Simon Fraser in regulation.
TWU finished 1-for-3 (33%) on the man advantage, while Simon Fraser’s power play went 2-for-5 (40%).