LANGLEY, B.C. – Friday evening's game against the UBC Thunderbirds saw the first loss of the Canada West regular season for the No.1-ranked Trinity Western women's volleyball team, as the Spartans dropped a four-set match (25-23, 15-25, 25-22, 25-12) at the Langley Events Centre.
The now 16-1 Spartans saw what was an 18-match regular season winning streak, dating back to the end of the 2017-18 campaign, come to an end, while UBC improved their season record to 12-7.
For UBC, second-year Kiera Van Ryk led the T-Bird charge with 17 kills, five service aces and seven digs. Teammate Jayde Robertsen collected six kills and Olivia Furlan finished 30 assists.
TWU saw notable contributions from Mikaelyn Sych (Airdrie, Alta.) with a .316 attack percentage and eight kills, while fifth-year Micaylee Pucilowski (Kelowna, B.C.) also added eight kills. The Spartans finished the game with a total of 13 blocks to UBC's three while the T-Birds won the service ace contest, collecting 15 to the Spartans nine.
The last time TWU lost a regular season match was Feb. 10, 2018 when the Spartans also lost to UBC in four sets.
Friday's first set was close throughout, with the Spartans earning five blocks in the frame. UBC earned three service aces to TWU's three service errors and it was the final two points where UBC connected on a kill from Furlan and an error on the Spartan side to gave the visitors the set, 25-23.
UBC took a quick 3-1 lead in the second set, but TWU caught by 8-8. Pucilowski pulled the Spartans along, picking up three kills in the set with an attacking percentage of .308 to extend the Spartans lead to six points at 20-14. UBC fought back on the serving efforts of Furlan, but the Spartans continued their momentum to a 25-15 win.
The Spartan took a lead early in the third set, but it was UBC's Van Ryk who took a three-point serving run to tilt the table at 7-7. Serving possession traded shortly thereafter, and the set continued like the first, back and forth throughout. UBC pulled away with a two-point lead, at 23-21, and with a kill from Victoria Behie and passing error on the Spartan side, the T-Birds took the set 25-22.
Taking a 10-1 lead in the fourth set, UBC pulled away, capturing a .333 attacking per cent to TWU's -.227, en route to the 12-point win.
Ryan Hofer – TWU Head Coach
"UBC served us really tough. It really tested our resilience on the baseline. I felt that there were moments when we matched their serving but then we let up or missed a serve and at times that was the difference. I thought the first three sets were good volleyball, but then we got into trouble in the fourth set.
"I think the key to bouncing back is taking responsibility, be it our coaching staff or the players, for each of our components and then putting it behind us and seeing how resilient we are as a team.
"I didn't know how long the streak was going to last and personally I've never really focused on streaks. We're aiming for a championship. If it takes a loss to teach us a few things about ourselves that are important, than this can be a valuable experience."
• This game marks the first loss of the Spartans entire 2018-19 season. Including preseason, the Spartans are now 25-1.
• UBC improves it's hot streak, as the T-Birds are now on a four-game winning streak.
• The last time TWU won 18 matches in a row from 2014 to 2016 when the Spartans finished the 2014-15 regular season with five wins in a row, before opening the 2015-16 campaign with 13 straight victories. The 18-match win streak was snapped on Jan. 9, 2016 in a five-setter against Alberta.
The Spartans and Thunderbirds return to the LEC on Saturday night (5 p.m. PT) for the rematch.