EDMONTON – The Trinity Western women's volleyball team rallied from a two-set deficit to win 3-2 (22-25, 21-25, 25-23, 25-22, 15-8) over Montreal in the U SPORTS consolation semifinal Saturday afternoon at the Saville Community Sports Centre.
With the win, the Spartans advance to play in the 5th Place match Sunday at 11 a.m. (PT).
Coming off a five-setter loss against UBC in the quarter-finals, the Spartans were once again forced to go the distance, but this time TWU pulled out the win thanks in large part to the play of Hilary Howe (Calgary), who finished the match with 19 kills and was TWU's Player of the Game.
TWU's Savannah Purdy (Victoria) added 10 kills, while setter Brie King (Langley, B.C.) guided the offence with 44 assists to go with 12 digs. Mikaelyn Sych (Airdrie, Alta.) added eight kills and six blocks for the Spartans.
Montreal's Maude Babin led the Carabins with 21 kills.
The Carabins opened up strong in the first two sets, and controlled the majority of the third set, looking destined to be playing in Sunday's consolation final. But the Spartans finally took their first lead of the third set at 22-21 on an ace from King. They closed out the set win with an ace from Sych.
The third-set win breathed life into the Spartans and the Carabins had virtually no answer the rest of the way.
The Spartans gave up just one lead, 18-17 in the fourth set, but quickly recovered to wrap up a close fourth set, and then they dominated the fifth.
The Carabins had all the momentum in the opening two sets. Babin led the way from the attack line, and senior setter Gabrielle Dubuc-Gaudreau was spreading the ball around nicely keeping Trinity Western guessing.
But Montreal's inexperience showed in the late stages of match, and Trinity Western capitalized.
Players of the Game
Trinity Western: Hilary Howe
Montreal: Gabrielle Dubac-Gaudreau
Ryan Hofer – TWU Coach
"It took us awhile to find it. We weren't really ourselves for the first two sets. I think the (quarter-final) loss was lingering. There were parts of us who didn't want to be here, but it's like if we're going to be here we're going to play to our fullest ability and with open hearts, and the girls went out and did it in those last sets.
"You work all year to go after that gold medal, just like the other seven teams who are here. The consolation bracket is a hard side to be on, but we want to finish out our season on a positive note.
On the comeback effort
"We knew we needed a push and do something different in the third set. We chose to be positive and just not give up, no matter the outcome and to just keep chipping away. We didn't look past any rally and just focused on each point."
Olivier Trudel – Montreal Coach
"We had the lead late in the third set, it was a moment we had to close it out, but they're an experienced team and they got that confidence and started rolling. We weren't as confident in that fourth set, and in the fifth set, they had us on our heels. Hats off to Trinity Western. They're a great team to battle with and they deserved the win today.
"I have a lot of young players and at this level, everyone can play well, but what changes when you have success or not success is consistency. We played really well, but we're not consistent enough in this tournament. But I was proud of our team."
• The last time these two teams met, TWU also earned a five-set win as they beat the Carabins in the bronze medal match in 2007.
• TWU is 2-1 all-time against Montreal in the national championship tournament.
• The Spartans are 5-0 all-time in consolation semifinals at the national championship.
• The Spartans have never finished lower than fifth in their 11 championship appearances.
• In each of their four previous quarter-final losses (2006, 2009, 2012 and 2014), TWU bounced back to win its next two games to finish fifth.
Recognized for quality, TWU has received seven consecutive A+ rankings for Quality of Teaching and Learning, holds three Canada Research Chairs, and wins national championships in CIS sports. More importantly, lives are changed at TWU through its whole-person, Christ-centred approach to education. With a wide array of undergraduate, graduate, and adult degree-completion programs, TWU equips leaders of character and competence to make a positive impact in the lives of others.
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.