By Mark Janzen, Trinity Western University
LANGLEY, British Columbia – The No. 4-ranked Trinity Western women's volleyball team earned a spot in the Canada West Final Four for the ninth straight year after knocking off Mount Royal 3-1 (25-14, 25-13, 23-25, 25-21) in Game 2 of the conference quarter-finals to complete the series sweep Friday at the Langley Events Centre.
For the second straight night, Sophie Carpentier (Ottawa) led the Spartans in emphatic fashion from the left side as she swung for 20 kills and added three aces, while middle Katie Devaney (Port Coquitlam, B.C.) added 10 kills and eight blocks.
After TWU dominated the first two sets, the Cougars came to life to win the third set on the strength of a nine-kill performance from Alex Donaghy. The fourth set was tied 20-20 before TWU finished on a 5-1 run, capped by a Devaney kill to win the set and the match.
As the two-time defending Canada West champions, TWU will travel to Edmonton in search of a program first conference three-peat, starting Friday at the University of Alberta.
"The win is awesome and it's great to go to the Final Four," said Spartans coach Ryan Hofer. "We've been working hard all year to put ourselves into a position to win a conference title, so I'm excited for that opportunity."
Donaghy finished with 17 kills and four blocks, while Robyn Potolicki had a team-high five blocks and Maddi Quinn had nine digs for the Cougars.
The Spartans Brie O'Reilly (Langley) had a match-high 14 digs while libero Rachel Flink (Surrey, B.C.) had 11 digs.
TWU registered 14 blocks to MRU's eight, while the Spartans had a .267 hitting percentage compared with the Cougars .050. Both teams had seven aces, but TWU had 13 serving errors while the Cougars only had seven.
The series sweep sees TWU remain unbeaten all-time in the postseason at the LEC with a 16-0 record.
"With their backs against the wall, they came to fight and they really made us work for it," Hofer said. "They raised their level of play in the third set and it took a little while for us to respond. Overall, I thought we were fairly steady tonight. I thought our play dropped a bit in the third set, but to be honest, that's the Mount Royal team that we were preparing to play. I think those last two sets will prove to be great preparation for us going into the Final Four."
Carpentier was at her attacking best in the first set, burying eight kills and hitting .533 to lead TWU to an 11-point win. After MRU took a 5-2 lead, the Spartans responded with a 15-0 run. With the Spartans in full control, TWU cruised to finish line hitting .393 as a team while holding MRU to -.074. Donaghy had five of the Cougars six kills in the set.
TWU took a 7-1 lead in the second set and never looked back. With the Spartans collecting six blocks in the set, TWU held the Cougars to a -.167 hitting percentage and just four kills en route to a 12-point win. Elly Wendel (Caronport, Sask.), Ashtyn McKenzie (Vernon, B.C.) and Carpentier had three kills each in the set.
With the Cougars playing for their playoff lives, the visitors were a different side in the third set, opening an 11-9 lead and holding on to a two-point edge into the technical timeout. A huge Cougars block put the visitors up 21-18 before holding off TWU for their first win of the weekend. Donaghy was unstoppable in the set, recording nine kills on 12 attempts without a single attacking error.
The fourth set was another tight one as the teams traded points until 20-20, including 12 tie scores and five lead changes. Nikki Cornwall (Coquitlam, B.C.), who finished with 45 assists, sparked a late TWU run with her second kill of the night. Devaney followed that up with a kill as TWU tallied five of the sets last six points.
Game Notes: The Spartans are 12-0 all-time in the regular season and playoffs against the Cougars and have only lost two sets over that span...prior to the third set, TWU had won 23 straight sets going back to the regular season…TWU's women's cross country team (2013-2016) and its men's soccer team (2005-2007) are the only two other Spartans programs to win at least three consecutive Canada West titles.
Spartans advance to Final Four with four-set win over Mount Royal
By Mark Janzen, Trinity Western University