Langley-based Spartans men’s volleyball team is preparing to play Brandon Bobcats in the Canada West semifinals on Thursday, following last week’s win over Mount Royal.
“If Brandon is healthy, they are every bit as good or better than we are,” warned TWU Head Coach Ben Josephson.
“They were the number two pick in the preseason, and when healthy, they are at least as good as that. We have earned the right to play these games in our city, on our court, in front of our friends and family. That’s the right we’ve earned by having the best season, and if there’s ever a chance to beat Brandon in a best two-of-three it’s right here at the LEC.”
Friday against Mount Royal, TWU’s 12 service aces were one shy of tying second-most all-time for a single game in program history, as Jackson Howe led the way with five. Howe and Pearson Eshenko each added eight kills for the Spartans, while Jacob Kern chipped in 10 and Derek Epp recorded 33 assists and nine digs in the win.
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Spartans outside Eric Loeppky meanwhile recorded six kills, and now sits just one back of TWU alum Nicholas Del Bianco (2010-2014) for sole possession of third all-time in career kills, with 1,297.
The Cougars were led by Chris Byam, who had 10 kills while hitting .471 in the match.
TWU opened the match on a 3-0 run, holding the lead for the entirety of the set before winning it 25-17. The Spartans recorded a total of six aces, including three from Howe. Eshenko added four kills on attack for TWU, with Mount Royals’ Byam also adding four.
After the Cougars took the opening two points in the second set, the Spartans would counter on a 9-3 run to take a 9-5 lead. TWU would then carry that lead for the rest of the set, leading by as much as seven points (17-10) before winning the set 25-19 off a Howe kill to take a 2-0 lead. Howe would add two more service aces in the set, as TWU had 11 heading into the third.
Both teams traded points frequently through the early going of the third set to the tune of 10-10. The Spartans broke free to lead by as much as five points, but Mount Royal would overtake TWU late at 20-19. A pair of Jesse Elser kills however would lead the way for the Spartans, as the home side would hold on for the three-set victory.
TWU hit .329 (41-14-82) in the match compared to Mount Royal’s .232 (26-10-69).
The win improved TWU to 16-2 all-time against Mount Royal, as the Spartans also won both regular season matchups earlier this season (Jan. 10-11).
The Spartans have achieved 13 kills in a match on four different occasions, with their last coming against MacEwan Nov. 1, 2019 (W 3-0).
Next, Spartans advance to take on the Brandon Bobcats in the Canada West semifinals beginning Thursday, Feb. 27th, 8 p.m. at the Langley Events Centre.