EDMONTON – The No. 1-ranked Spartans put their foot on the gas from the national anthem on out and raced to the finish in a 3-0 (25-20, 25-21, 25-14) rout that showed why they are the top-ranked team in U SPORTS.
On Friday, the Griffins forced star Eric Loeppky (Steinbach, Man.) to take some speed off his powerful swing with their blocking assignments, but he swung for the fences often on Saturday, finishing with a match-high 14 kills on .500 efficiency. Jacob Kern (Edmonton), who was deadly on the back-row pipe play, finished with 11 kills and a game-high 10 digs.
However, it was fifth-year setter Adam Schriemer (Winnipeg), the reigning U SPORTS national championship MVP, whose 40 assists in just three sets equaled his career-high for a three-set match.
Another key for the Spartans was throwing Edmonton's Riley Vander Meulen (Edmonton) into the mix, as he had eight kills on .636 efficiency.
Offensively, MacEwan had some good hitting percentage numbers – most notably from third-year middle Max Vriend, who racked up eight kills on .333 efficiency. Unfortunately, their opponent's numbers were just that much better.
The Spartans finish the semester tied with UBC for top spot in the conference at 11-1, finishing the first half of the season on a seven-match winning streak.
Head Coach Ben Josephson
"I thought last night our setter didn't have as good of a game as he's capable of. Part of it was the way they were blocking was a little bit new and we weren't dialing in on that. We reviewed a little tape and he was able to get a handle of how to run it against them and once he kind of understands what he's doing, he'll find a rhythm. He's a fifth-year guy, he was the MVP last year at nationals. He's been around the block a time or two. That's what veteran setters will do. We have enough weaponry for him to set it up. I think he ran a masterful game tonight and got a lot of good players a lot of looks.
"Riley was probably the man of the match. He and Adam had a wicked connection and that opened up a bunch of pipe opportunities for Eric and Kern. I was really happy overall with the response to last night's performance, which wasn't up to our standards. This was a great way to finish off a strong semester."
On the Spartans First Semester Success
"This is the youngest crew we've had in a long time, so I was expecting a few more mistakes along the way. They've actually found ways to win – last night would be one of those. We weren't at our best, but they still found a way to win. Overall, they're ahead of schedule. I think they're improving really well. We're set up in position to maybe host a first-round playoff, if we keep doing well and that's kind of what you're hoping for. That's always been our goal and I think we've set ourselves up well for the second half to do that."
TWU will next host Winnipeg on Jan. 5-6 at the Langley Events Centre.