LANGLEY, B.C. – The Trinity Western women's volleyball team earned a two-match sweep of No. 3 Alberta for the first time since 2009, capping the weekend with a 3-2 (25-16, 23-25, 26-24, 21-25, 15-9) win Saturday at the Langley Events Centre.
After the Pandas equalised with a fourth-set victory, the Spartans raced out to an 8-3 lead in the fifth set before cruising to a six-point win to take the match.
Since starting the year with just one victory from their first three outings, the Spartans (7-3) have now won six games in a row. The loss drops Alberta to 5-5 on the season. TWU opened the weekend by winning in four sets Friday.
Second-year Hilary Howe (Calgary) had a career-high 20 kills to lead the Spartans, while Linda Damerau (Furthen, Germany) had 11 kills. Brie King (Langley) had a career-high 44 assists to go with 17 digs. Avery Heppell (Langley) had 10 blocks along with five kills.
The Pandas Kory White had 23 kills, while Erin Corbett had 10 kills and a team-high 16 digs. Shauntelle Hogg had a team-high four blocks.
TWU had 15 blocks to the Pandas 12. The Spartans finished with a .147 hitting percentage, while Alberta hit .129.
The first set was all Spartans as they took a 6-1 lead and never looked back. Hitting .290 compared to the Pandas .071, TWU cruised to a nine-point win. Howe had five kills for TWU, while White had a team-high three kills for the Pandas.
The second set was back and forth throughout, with the teams playing on even terms until 20-20. However, Alberta tallied four straight points to get to set point after a Corbett kill. The Spartans rallied with three points in row, but a kill from White sealed the win for the visitors.
The Pandas looked to have all the momentum early in the third set, taking a 15-10 lead. TWU responded with a 9-1 run that turned the set the Spartans way. The home side went to set point with a four-point edge, but the Pandas roared back thanks to a hard-serving run from Hogg that tied the set 24-24. At that point, Howe reentered the game and tallied two straight kills to help TWU take the set.
Alberta took an 11-10 lead in the fourth set and held an edge the rest of the way. On the strength of three straight kills from White, Alberta went into the break leading 16-12. TWU closed the gap late to just two points, 23-21, but with White earning nine kills in the set, the Pandas held on for the win.
The Spartans took an 8-3 lead early in the fifth set but the Pandas rallied to get within two points, at 10-8. However, TWU responded with a 5-1 run, taking the match and the weekend sweep after a Pandas serving error.
Head Coach Ryan Hofer
"It was a battle. We knew Alberta was going to make some adjustments and we had to adjust back as the game went on. It took us a little longer than I had hoped, but by the end, the girls did what they needed to do and they played very well in the fifth set.
"(Alberta coach) Laurie (Eisler) does a great job of preparing her teams. She has great athletes and great players and it's a fun and competitive environment when we play.
"I thought Hilary did a really nice job for us. She had a nice efficiency, but I thought it was a good team effort all around."
• The last time TWU swept the Pandas in a regular season weekend was Jan. 16-17, 2009. TWU won both matches in four sets.
• TWU had an 11-8 edge in aces.
• The last time TWU hosted the Pandas, in 2015-16, the teams split their weekend series.
• Last year, Alberta won both of their regular season meetings on home court.
• The Spartans and Pandas played each other twice in the preseason this year, with each team winning once.
The Spartans are on the road to finish the semester next weekend, travelling to play MacEwan Dec. 1-2. Alberta returns home to host Thompson Rivers Dec. 2-3.