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NO. 1 SPARTANS CAP SEMESTER WITH WEEKEND SWEEP

LANGLEY, B.C. – The No. 1-ranked Trinity Western men's volleyball team completed a weekend sweep of Calgary, winning 3-0 (25-13, 27-25, 25-24) Saturday at the Langley Events Centre.

With the win, TWU enters the Christmas break with a 9-1 record, while Calgary drops to 3-7 on the season.

Coming off a straight sets win over Calgary Friday, the Spartans used an impressive second set rally – TWU trailed 13-5 before coming back to win – to ensure the home side would earn with a win in the minimum.

Jacob Kern (Edmonton) and Eric Loeppky (Steinbach, Man.) had 10 kills each for TWU, with Loeppky committing just one attacking error (.500) and Kern having only three errors (.333).

Derek Epp (Saskatoon) had 28 assists and a match-high nine digs. Both Jackson Howe (Calgary) and Pearson Eshenko (Banff, Alta.) had five blocks each.

Tim Taylor had a team-high eight kills for Calgary, while Blain Cranston had 20 assists.

The Spartans had a 10-3 edge in blocks and an 8-2 advantage in aces.

It was all TWU in the first set, taking a 16-9 lead at the technical timeout before carrying on for a 12-point win. With Calgary committing 13 attacking errors and TWU picking up six blocks in the set, the Spartans needed just eight kills to earn the set. Loeppky had a team-leading three kills, while Howe had five blocks. No Dino had more than two kills and Calgary was held without a block.

In the second set, Calgary built a 13-5 lead only to see TWU claw all the way back to take an 18-17 lead. After that, the teams went back and forth until 25-25, when kills from Ben Lieuwen (Abbotsford, B.C.) and Eshenko sealed the set for TWU.

TWU finished the set with 17 kills and hit .343, while Calgary had 12 kills and hit .233. After swinging into the Spartans block through the first set, the Dinos made just five attacking errors in the second set and TWU had just one block to Calgary's two.

A quick 6-2 Spartans lead in the third set forced Calgary into an early timeout. Unfortunately for the visitors, the break did little to slow the TWU attack, as the Spartans pulled away to win the set 25-14. TWU hit .458 in the set, while Calgary hit .056.

QUOTABLE
Ben Josephson – TWU Coach
"I was very proud of the guys' response. All of the things we didn't like about last night, I liked tonight. They played together and they were disciplined. They played focused and smart. They made volleyball mistakes, which is part of the game. But they didn't make mindless errors. They didn't make selfish plays. They played well for each other.

"We say look each other in the eyes, show your teeth and use your words. Those three things happened. I liked the feel and that's how we wanted to go into the Christmas break."

On the team rallying in the second set
"There was no change in the emotion of the group. I didn't really sense our emotion was different when we won the first set or when we were down 13-5 or when we were on the comeback. I was not going to call a timeout. I wanted to let that play out and what I loved seeing was there was a consistency to the way they approached each point. That's what great volleyball teams are all about."

On the first semester
"It was really good. I thought guys like Kern and Epp have been the best surprises. Both have played super well. We were expecting that from Kern – that's what fourth-year players do – but Derek has stepped into our setting role so well. Aaron Boettcher (Surrey, B.C.) has got better every week coming back from the injury. Pearce has gotten better every week coming back from his surgery. Jackson is playing a brand new position is getting better every week. As Eric got fresher from the summer, he got better every week. And I thought this was Carter Bergen's (Winnipeg) best semester of his career. Where we are now is exactly where I had hoped we'd be."

NOTABLE
• Since TWU lost Game 1 of the Canada West best-of-three quarter-finals against Calgary in 2015-16, the Spartans, who went on to win the series en route to a national title that year, have beat the Dinos eight straight times (including regular season and playoffs).
• TWU's only loss this year was a five-setter against No. 5 Alberta (Nov. 3).
• The Spartans end the semester winners of six matches in a row and 12 straight sets.

UP NEXT
The Spartans are back on the floor Jan. 4-5 when they play in Brandon. Calgary will play in a post-Christmas tournament at Thompson Rivers University before returning to Canada West action Jan. 4-5 at UBC Okanagan.

About Spartan Athletics
As official members of U SPORTS, the Spartans currently compete in 10 sports in the Canada West conference, including women's and men's soccer, volleyball, basketball, cross country and track & field. TWU also competes in the British Columbia Intercollegiate Hockey League (BCIHL) in men's hockey. Since TWU entered U SPORTS in 1999, the Spartans haAve won 11 U SPORTS team championships and 25 Canada West team championships.

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