TWU volleyball: Spartans beat the Heat

Trinity Western's Jodi Neufeld gets lows to return a ball during her team's straight sets win over the UBC Okanagan Heat on Saturday at the Langley Events Centre.

The Trinity Western Spartans women’s volleyball team also won a pair of straight-sets matches over the UBC Okanagan Heat, improving to 6-2 in league play and rising to ninth in the national rankings.

The Spartans won 3-0 (25-19,25-18,25-12) and 3-0 (25-17,25-16, 25-15) with both matches  at the Langley Events Centre.

Trinity Western’s .212 hitting percentage and 11 service aces, compared to UBC-O’s -.047 and four aces proved to be the difference on a night when both teams were strong blocking – TWU had eight blocks while UBC-O had six – and digging – TWU had 36 to UBC-O’s 34.

The Spartans are now 6-2 on the season and have won four matches in a row, while the Heat fall to 2-6 and have lost six of their last seven games.

“It was a good weekend for us,” said Spartans coach Ryan Hofer. “We’re continually learning how to play with one another and what it takes to play at a high level night after night. Can we do the same things we did last night? Can we come in and follow a game plan and execute? I think we did that tonight.

“I think we did a good job of finding outside hitters. Royal [Richardson] had a fantastic night and we found Alicia [Perrin] down the middle. Overall it was a strong effort.”

The first set was close early on as the teams went back and forth off the start, with neither side taking more than a one-point lead until the Spartans opened a two-point advantage at 9-7.

The Heat, who looked in much better form than Friday night, battled back to tie the set at 9-9 and 10-10 but after a tandem block from French and Perrin on UBC-O’s Basso that gave Trinity Western an 11-10 edge, the Spartans started to take over.

Trinity Western went on a 6-1 run, capped by a French service ace, that gave the Spartans a 16-11 lead and a tidy advantage they wouldn’t relinquish.

The Spartans pulled away down the stretch as they, with Trinity Western’s Richardson leading with a set-high five kills, went on to take the set 25-17.

The Heat turned the match’s tide in the early stages of the second set as they took a quick 4-1 lead. But Trinity Western immediately responded with five straight points, snuffing the Heat’s opening momentum.

Then with the set tied 7-7, Trinity Western went on another 5-0 run, capped by a Chelsea Hudson ace, one of three she earned in the set and four on the night, and rolled that dominance into a nine-point win after a Casie Gano kill earned the Spartans the winning point.

The Heat, who were paced by Beamish with four kills in the set, were unable to gain any sort of foothold in terms of consistency and the final score line fairly favoured a strong Spartans side.

In the third set, the Spartans swell of momentum garnered in the second set proved to be a little much for Heat.

With Gano at the service line, Trinity Western scored the first three points of the set and never trailed the rest of the way. A kill by UBC-O’s Katy Klomps and a block from Beamish gave made it a one-point game, at 3-2, but the visitors would get no closer.

The Spartans went on a 12-2 run, one that included two kills and two aces from Perrin, to build a 15-4 lead, essentially putting the game to bed.

However, despite the sizable deficit, the Heat were a game bunch right to the final point but had just dug themselves far too deep of a hole to recover from.

The Spartans will now travel to Thompson Rivers to play the WolfPack Dec. 2-3.

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