EDMONTON – The MacEwan Griffins pulled off their second upset of the weekend by beating the No. 2 Trinity Western Spartans 3-1 (25-16, 26-24, 22-25, 25-14) to put the wraps on the biggest weekend result in program history. The victory comes a night after they beat the Spartans 3-2 and is their third in a row over national championship contenders after they defeated former No. 1 Calgary last weekend.
The loss sees TWU fall to 18-4 but with Calgary losing and dropping to 17-5, the Spartans remain in the driver's seat for top spot in the conference with one weekend of regular season play remaining.
With the result, the Griffins continue to come back from the dead in the Canada West women's volleyball playoff race, moving back to .500 at 11-11. They pull into a tie with Manitoba for seventh, both a win up on Mount Royal University for the final playoff spot after the Cougars also posted a big win, 3-2 over Calgary, to get to 10-12.
Lauren Holmes led the Griffins with 12 kills, 12 digs and five blocks, Stevenson had 11 kills and eight blocks, and Haley Gilfillan posted six kills, five service aces and six blocks. Hailey Cornelis added 10 kills and 13 digs for MacEwan, while Kylie Schubert's 35 assists and Rachel Jorvina's 23 digs were also a big factor.
TWU was led by third year outside Hilary Howe (Calgary), who posted a match-high 16 kills from the left side, while adding 17 digs. Rookie outside Savannah Purdy (Victoria, B.C.) added 12 kills for TWU, while rookie backup setter Olivia Heinen (Langley, B.C.) , in for injured starter Brie King, had 35 assists.
In the opening set, the Griffins went on an early 9-0 run, survived a push back and closed it out on a 12-4 trot when Cornelis blasted it off the block.
TWU threatened to run away with the second set behind some big Howe kills, but MacEwan hung tough and refused to go away. The Spartans led 16-15 at the technical timeout and had a set point at 24-23, but resilient MacEwan rallied to win 26-24 when Cornelis' serve tipped off the net and found the floor for an ace.
The third set was much cleaner for TWU, who found a way around the MacEwan block. The teams traded points throughout, but the Spartans took the most important ones, rattling off a 4-0 run to win 25-22 when Carly Weber's attack went long.
MacEwan was clinical in the fourth set, however, shutting down Howe and generally blocking everything. They led 16-8 at the technical timeout and never let up, blocking Purdy for the decisive match point in a fourth-set rout.
TWU Head Coach Ryan Hofer
"I think whenever you play a playoff team, we don't go in expecting to win or expecting to lose. We go in needing to take care of our side of the court."
"There's lots to take away from this weekend. They exposed some stuff on us that we need to work on. We're going to get to work. We could very likely see them in two weeks."
"We just have to be at a point where we can make good shots. Even though they're going to be stable and strong at us, we just have to make smart shots. We have to find ways of using the block and finding the edges of it."
- As a team, the Griffins out blocked the Spartans 16.0 to 4.0, no small feat against Canada West's best team at the net.
- The Spartans committed 27 attacking errors to MacEwan's 11, ultimately losing because their opponent played a cleaner game.
The Spartans will return home for senior weekend against the Manitoba Bisons on Feb. 15-16, while the Griffins will head to Brandon to close out the season against the Bobcats. You can catch all these match-ups live online at CanadaWest.TV.