A new year has brought the same results for the Trinity Western Spartans volleyball program.
The men’s team — ranked No. 1 in the country — pushed their winning streak to nine matches over the weekend, while the women’s squad has rattled off 10 consecutive victories after both prevailed in a pair of matches over the Winnipeg Wesmen at the Langley Events Centre.
The Spartan men are 13-1 in Canada West conference play while the women are 11-3 and improved their national ranking from No. 10 to No. 8.
And while the men’s squad needed four sets to win 3-1 on Friday and then five sets to prevail 3-2 on Saturday, the women’s team won both their matches 3-0.
“I’m really pleased with how we served tonight — just putting Winnipeg under pressure. They made some nice adjustments tonight that we had to be prepared for, so I was pleased overall with our team’s performance,” said TWU coach Ryan Hofer.
“I was also really pleased with all the players who went in and contributed tonight. It was a full team effort and there are a some players who have been working really hard in practice and they went out there and did a good job.
“We had a few more blocks this evening compared to yesterday. I think (Winnipeg) was really trying to use our hands and, with that, sometimes you get them and sometimes you don’t.”
Hilary Howe led the team with 13 blocks while Brie O’Reilly had 26 assists and four aces on Saturday.
Friday’s match saw Linda Damerau lead the way with nine kills and 10 digs as TWU won 25-19, 25-8 and 25-16.
On the men’s side, TWU won 27-25 and 25-22 in the first two sets on Saturday before Winnipeg forced a fifth set with 28-26 and 25-21 wins. The Spartans prevailed 15-12 in the deciding set.
“We knew this game was going to be really hard based on the way they finished the game last night. And Larry (McKay), in my opinion, is the best coach we have in Canada coaching at the collegiate level and every time we play them, that is reinforced in my mind,” said Spartans coach Ben Josephson.
“The subtle things that they do to apply pressure increases throughout the whole game. Everything you do well, you can’t do well when you play Larry’s team.
“We got exposed in so many phases in what we have to get better at to beat a great team like that again in the playoffs. We didn’t have to lose to have that stuff show up, which is great.
Jacob Kern led the team with 21 kills while Pearson Eshenko had 10 blocks and Carter Bergen had 18 digs in Saturday’s contest.
“I thought Kern had an incredible weekend. He has come back from the break and has been really physical. He’s learning how to be the killer. Overall, I thought it was Kern’s coming out party as a scorer for us,” Josephson said.
Friday’s match saw Jesse Elser finish with 15 kills while Bergen added another 17 digs as the Spartans won 3-1 (25-17,25-14,22-25,25-21).