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NO. 2 SPARTANS UPSET BY THUNDERBIRDS

 

LANGLEY, British Columbia – The UBC Thunderbirds upset the No. 2 Trinity Western Spartans 3-2 in game two of the Canada West quarter finals Friday night at the Langley Events Centre in Langley, B.C. The Thunderbirds forced tomorrow's game three of the best of three series with an 18-25, 25-22, 25-19, 21-25, 15-12 win. TWU finished Canada West conference play at 18-4, while UBC finished at 11-11. 

Third year outside hitter Eric Loeppky (Steinbach, Man.) with 19 kills, 11 digs, and five blocks, and rookie outside hitter Brodie Hofer (Langley, B.C.) with 12 kills led the Spartans attack. While rookie outside Michael Dowhaniuk (White Rock, B.C.) with 15 kills, four digs, and two aces and rookie outside hitter Matt Neaves (Calgary) with 14 kills nine digs, four blocks and an ace led the Thunderbirds attack. 

Spartans fourth year middle Aaron Boettcher (Surrey, B.C.) and Thunderbird third year middle Jordan Deshane (Surrey, B.C.) each had eight blocks. 

TWU second year setter Derek Epp (Saskatoon) finished with 47 set assists, while UBC second year setter Ben Hooker (Winnipeg) finished with 44 set assists. 

The two teams were even early in the opening set. With the set tied at 5-5 TWU was able to get separation and after a fourth year outside Jacob Kern (Edmonton) kill had built a 12-7 lead and forced UBC into a timeout. The Spartans were able to expand their lead as the game progressed. Eric Loeppky gave TWU a 16-8 lead at the break after his cross court attack. The Spartans maintained their advantage as Kern closed out the set to give TWU the opener 25-18. The Spartans hit .458 (13-2-24), while the Thunderbirds hit .037 (8-7-27) in the opening set. 

In the second set UBC had the upper hand. Matt Neaves attack gave the Thunderbirds a 6-2 lead and forced the Spartans into a timeout. UBC continued to control the set as Jordan Deshane had the Thunderbirds up 16-10 at the break. With the Thunderbirds up 20-14, TWU called another timeout. Out of the break the Spartans went on a 7-1 run and after a UBC attack error had tied the set at 21-21. UBC would stop the run and took the next two points to lead 23-21 after a Michael Dowhaniuk kill. A service error made it 23-22, but the Thunderbirds took the next two points to even up the match 1-1, with a 25-22 second set win. UBC turned the attacking tables in the second set hitting .344 (15-4-32), while TWU hit .290 (13-4-31). 

The Spartans continued to struggle with the Thunderbirds style of play in the third set. UBC took the early control and led 7-1. The Spartans slowly closed the gap and after an Eric Loeppky kill trailed 10-7. UBC stopped the Spartans run and were able to lead 16-11 at the break. The final stages of the set belonged to the Thunderbirds. UBC extend their lead to seven points, 21-14. The Thunderbirds' Michael Dowhaniuk closed out the set with a high hands shot to give UBC the set 25-19 and a 2-1 edge. 

Trinity Western started the fourth set playing better and took and early 8-4 lead after a middle attack from Jackson Howe (Calgary). UBC responded with a 6-2 run and after a kill by Ben Hooker had tied the set at 10-10. The Spartans responded with a run to take an 18-14 lead, but UBC countered with their own run to tie the set at 18-18. TWU came back with five straight points and after a Derek Epp ace led 23-18. Brodie Hofer closed out the set with an attack off the block to give TWU the set 25-21 and even the match at 2-2. TWU hit .308 (12-4-26), while UBC hit .094 (11-8-32).

In the fifth set TWU took a 3-2 lead, but UBC ran off a 4-0 run to take control of the shortened set.  The Thunderbirds fifth year middle blocker Joel Regehr (Courtney, B.C.) gave UBC an 8-4 lead at the changeover. Out of the break TWU would cut the lead to two points, 12-10, after an Eric Loeppky kill down the line. A Brodie Hofer block of Matt Neaves made it a one point game with TWU trailing 12-11. UBC's Danny Aspenlieder quickly regained the two point margin for the Thunderbirds on the next point, with an off hands attack to give TWU the 13-11 lead. On the next play a TWU attack error gave UBC a 14-11 lead. Hofer held off one Thunderbird match point with an attack over the block to make it 14-12 UBC. UBC's Matt Neaves closed out the match to give the Thunderbirds a 15-12 win and the match 3-2. In the final set TWU hit .000 (7-7-20), while UBC hit .357 (7-2-14). 

QUOTABLE
Ben Josephson – TWU Head Coach
"It became an emotional game instead of a competitive tactical smart game, and we were not smart enough to beat them today.  

"It is really hard to end a team in Canada West. The amount of fight that UBC showed today is an example of that. The scrapped and played hard from the opening whistle to the final whistle."I don't that we were consistent enough to beat them. I know that we were really good and we were really bad. And I'm sure that they are not super happy with the way that they played either. But that's volleyball." 

"What wasn't great for us was that we were just inconsistent in our emotion and in our communication. We went from way too high to way too low. And those swings are really high in the play-offs because everything is emotionally charged and we did not respond to it."  

"Yesterday they struggled to pass, so they had a hard time spiking. And today we struggled to pass, so we had a hard time spiking and they passed really well. Their passers were great and our passers struggled. When you out pass the other team you get better spikes, and they out passed us by a long way tonight."

On tomorrow's game three
"Tomorrow we have to pass and serve like we did yesterday and we have to do it for five sets. And they are going to say the same thing. Whoever serves and passes better will win. The two teams are too good at block defence to score easy in trouble situations." 

NOTABLE

  • TWU's last loss came at the hands of UBC, when the Spartans lost in four sets on Jan. 25. TWU bounced back the next night to beat the T-Birds in three sets.
  • The T-Birds posted a 9-1 record in the second half of the season, with their only loss coming against the Spartans.
  • TWU is the reigning three-time Canada West champions.
  • This weekend's series is the first time TWU and UBC have ever played each other in the Canada West quarter-finals.
  • Prior to last night's match the last time both teams met in playoffs was last year's national final, when UBC capture gold in a three-set victory at McMaster University.
  • TWU is 42-18 all-time against UBC, including both the regular season and playoffs.
  • TWU is 4-2 all-time against UBC in the playoffs.
  • With his two solo blocks TWU's Boettcher now has 52 career solo blocks. Which is third best in TWU history, trailing Josh Doornenbal's ('10) 55 and Steve Rogalsky's ('07) 53. 

UP NEXT
The Spartans and T-Birds play Game 3 Saturday at 7 p.m. (PT) at the LEC. The winner will advance to the Canada West semifinals. 

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 have won 11 U SPORTS team championships and 25 Canada West team championships. 

-TW-