TWU heads into their post-season series against Calgary on a winning note.
The Trinity Western University Spartans showed their bounce-back ability Saturday night at Saville Community Sports Centre in Alberta.
After losing to the host Alberta Pandas the night before, the Spartans scratched out a five-set win in Canada West women's volleyball action.
Set scores were 20-25, 29-27, 22-25, 25-21, and 12-15.
A day after seeing their eight-game winning streak snapped by the Pandas in a four-set outing, the Spartans responded with an emotional win that sends them into the post-season on a high.
The Spartans, who finished the regular season at 19-3 and second in the conference, will host Calgary in the Canada West quarter-finals tonight and Friday (Feb. 14 and 15) and, if necessary, Saturday, Feb. 16 at the Langley Events Centre.
Alberta, which finished with a 15-7 record and third overall, will host Manitoba this weekend.
As a team, TWU had an attacking percentage of .195 while Alberta was .188 hitting percentage. Trinity Western managed 64 kills to Alberta's 53.
The Spartans were paced Amber Brown and Carly Hamilton, who each had 14 kills while Amy Ott added 12 and Alicia Perrin chipped in with 11.
Hamilton and Brown were also notably lethal from the service line as Hamilton dropped five aces on the Pandas, while Brown added four. Combined, they picked up nine of TWU's 11 aces on the evening. Setter Kelci French had a match-high 46 assists.
Jaki Ellis, in her final home conference game of her career, made history as she became the first player in Canada West women's volleyball to record 2,000 career regular season assists and 500 career regular season kills. The Mississauga born athlete led Alberta in kills with 18, while also chalking up four aces, 12 digs and 18 assists. Ellis also owns the Canada West record for career regular season aces.
"It was a really exciting match tonight and I thought the girls did a great job of rebounding from yesterday," said Spartans coach Ryan Hofer, following the win. "Kelci French set an outstanding match. Her locations and decisions really brought a lot to the floor and made the players around her better. Our middles had a significant game and we served them really tough. It was an opportunity to learn and get better and I'm sure we'll see that team again."
After winning the fourth set 25-21, Alberta jumped out to a quick lead in the fifth courtesy a Stang solo block.
But, within moments, the Spartans were ahead 6-3, which then flipped to an 8-6 Pandas' advantage at the technical time out. After switching sides, TWU jumped back in front, this time for good. At 13-12, Spartan setter French made the shot of the match when she leapt to set the ball, but switched gears and instead cracked a perfect cross-court kill into the far right corner of the Pandas' court. Then, after a great rally, TWU was able to win the match with a kill by Hamilton off Alberta's block.
Four set setback
The Spartans eight-game win streak came to an end Friday at the Saville Community Sports Centre.
The Spartans fell in four sets to host Alberta. Set scores were 25-16, 26-24, 20-25, and 25-16.
The loss ended the Spartans feint hopes of catching conference-leading UBC as it's now guaranteed that TWU, which dropped to 18-3 on the year, will finish second in the Canada West standings.
The win guarantees that Alberta, the reigning conference champions, will finish third in the conference standings, and also host a best-of-three quarter-final series. The Pandas now have a 15-6 record.
The quarter-final winners will travel to Vancouver, home of the five-time defending CIS champion UBC Thunderbirds, for the Canada West Final Four tournament.
The top three finishers from the conference championship will move on to the CIS championship, Feb. 28 - March 2 at Sherbrooke University in Quebec.
On Friday, Laurie Eisler's squad got a match high 12 kills from fifth-year left-side Krista Zubick as well as 10 kills from fellow fifth-year setter/right-side Alyssa Jones.
Trinity Western was paced by both Hamilton and Ott, who each had 11 kills. Brown picked up nine kills, three aces and 12 digs in the loss.
"Alberta got us a little bit out of our element and they put a little pressure on us and we struggled with it," Hofer said, following the loss. "We need to figure out how to respond a little bit better and rise to the occasion. It was a good battle tonight and both teams worked hard."