LANGLEY, British Columbia – Playing in its first game at the Langley Events Centre since winning the national championship last March, the Trinity Western men’s volleyball team swept Regina 3-0 (25-16, 25-10, 25-23) Friday night in its home-opener.
The Spartans proved to be the better side from the opening serve to the final kill as they outhit the Cougars .345 to.126 and had 10 service aces while Regina had none.
Trinity Western, who had eight players with at least three kills, was led by Marc Howatson, who had seven kills and five digs, and Lucas Van Berkel, who had six kills and five blocks.
The Cougars Jamie Wilkins led Regina with eight kills and two digs while Drew Smith had five kills and four blocks.
With the win, Trinity Western improves to 5-0 while Regina drops to 3-4 on the season.
“It was a great crowd tonight and that really fired us up,” said Spartans coach Ben Josephson. “We knew we were going to be really amped to play but I was really pleased that the guys weren’t over activated. They did their jobs and we did the stuff that we worked on this week.
“We had a chapel before the game and we talked about how God asks you to come and see what he’s about. And we had all these fans coming out to see what we were all about and we wanted to show them what we care about and how we play for each other. We showed that for two sets and then the kids were a little rattled in the third set but I thought they did a great job of finding their identity and finding their passion and they played great down the stretch.”
In the first set, the Spartans were an impressive lot as they raced out to an 8-4 lead and never trailed the rest of the way.
The Spartans evenly distributed the ball with five players getting at least two kills as they never allowed Regina to generate sort of momentum.
A kill by Regina’s Jacques Borgeaud got the Cougars to within two points at 9-7 but a subsequent 5-0 run by the Spartans all but ended the set.
The Spartans Steven Marshall had a set-high five kills while Regina’s Wilkins and Andrew Nelson each contributed three kills.
Trinity Western’s momentum rolled into the second set as they built a 5-2 lead, extended that to 8-5 and then went on a game-changing 6-0 run that gave the Spartans a decisive nine-point edge.
Playing in front of a boisterous crowd of 520, the Spartans never let up as they gave Regina very little to work with, cruising to a 25-10 win.
Once again, Trinity Western had balanced attack as six different players got kills, led by Howatson, who had three in the set. The Spartans also had five team blocks to Regina’s one.
The Cougars Joel Colter had two kills to lead Regina.
In the third set, with the Spartans youngsters on the floor – including first-years Tyler Koslowsky and Devyn Plett seeing their first CIS action on home court – Regina took a quick 4-1 lead and took some early momentum.
But with not one player on the Trinity Western side with more than two years of CIS experience, the Spartans battled back to make it a 6-6 game after a Nick Del Bianco service ace.
Then, after falling behind 9-7, the Spartans rallied with three straight points thanks to back-to-back aces by Lucas Van Berkel and a Brad Kufke kill, to give the home side a 10-9 lead.
However, the Cougars roared back with a 6-0 run, led in large part by Nelson who had two kills, to give Regina a 15-10 lead.
But the Spartans responded in a big as they turned what had become an 18-14 deficit into a 20-19 advantage largely because Del Bianco’s second and third aces of the set.
The Cougars, who hit .480 in the final set, replied by retaking the lead 23-22 after a Drew Smith kill but three straight points from the Spartans ended Regina’s hopes of extending the contest to a fourth set.
The two teams will meet in a rematch Saturday at 7:00 p.m. Thirty minutes prior to the game, the Spartans will raise their 2011 national championship banner.
Game Notes – The Spartans had eight blocks to the Cougars five…all 14 dressed Spartans saw the floor…TWU had 37 digs to Regina’s 26.