LANGLEY, B.C. – The No. 1 Trinity Western men’s volleyball team remained unbeaten in Canada West action this year after completing a weekend sweep of UBC Okanagan with a 3-0 (25-13, 25-21, 25-19) win Saturday at the Langley Events Centre.
The Spartans came out flying in the first set, were productive in the second set and then, with the bench on the floor in the third set, finished off a perfect home weekend. Trinity Western had a .457 hitting percentage and held the Heat to just .194, while also limiting their attack errors to nine compared to UBC Okanagan’s 16.
With six players getting at least five kills for the Spartans, it was once again a balanced attack that led the way for Trinity Western. Marc Howatson finished with a team-high eight kills and two blocks, while Lucas Van Berkel had seven kills and two blocks and Steven Marshall had six kills and one service ace.
For the Heat, it was fourth year Nate Speijer (Outside hitter, Penticton, BC) with nine kills, six digs and two aces, while middle Brett Uniat (4th year, Cochrane, AB) had nine kills and third year Greg Niemantsverdriet (Outside hitter, Vernon, BC) had six kills and two digs.
Trinity Western is now 8-0 on the season while UBC Okanagan is 3-5.
“Statistically we were far better tonight,” states UBC Okanagan coach Greg Poitras. “Trinity is typically a team that can get 15+ blocks against teams. Our first contact was 50% better so it was good to see our guys make the necessary mental adjustments to keep us in system for more of the match. Jon Russo (1st year, Lake Country, BC) proved to be very effective. He attacked the ball aggressively and made good shots. Preston Tucker (5th year setter, Vernon, BC) connected much better with our middles. We had a shot in the third set but constant pressure by TWU eventuality wore on us. As a group we learned a great deal about ourselves this weekend.”
“I thought our opponents played much better tonight and they passed the ball better, which put new stresses on us,” said Spartans coach Ben Josephson. “So I thought it was a good test for us in the first set to make some adjustments to some better play across the net. It was really good to see how our guys responded. They were really sharp and they made a ton of good plays.”
The Spartans got off to a dominant start in the first set as they earned the first point of the night and never allowed the Heat to take a lead.
With Rudy Verhoeff leading the Spartans in the set with five kills, the Spartans took a 10-4 lead and simply kept rolling to 25 points. The Heat were unable to ever earn more than one point at a time as it was Trinity Western’s game from start to finish.
The Spartans’ Jarrod Offereins, who set the Spartans’ three-set record for digs Friday night with 20, continued his hot pace with nine digs in the first set alone.
In the second set, with the score 6-4 for the Spartans, the Heat got a massive kill from Jon Russo to make it a one-point game and as the rookie gave the Heat an emotional lift.
But immediately following Russo’s kill, the Spartans turned the game back in their favour with five straight points to take control, albeit fleeting.
The Heat responded with a 5-1 run, sparked by another Russo kill, closing the gap to two points at 12-10.
Then, with the score 16-14, after another kill from the Heat’s Russo, the Spartans went on a 4-1 run that gave them a 20-15 lead and momentum. The Heat closed the gap late with three straight points to make it 24-21 but they wouldn’t get any closer as Howatson’s kill attempt went off the UBC Okanagan block and out of bounds for the winning point.
In the third set, the Spartans, as they have done all year with a 2-0 lead, put in their bench players to complete the contest.
Similar to Friday’s third set, the Heat got off to a quick start, taking a 3-0 lead.
But the Spartans immediately got back into the game and, while trailing 8-7, a momentum-changing kill from Trinity Western’s Brad Kufske turned the game towards the home team.
Trinity Western opened an 11-8 lead after four straight points and the youngsters found their flow.
The Heat fought their way back into the lead at 13-12 after a Niemantsverdriet kill but Trinity Western reestablished its lead shortly thereafter, following a Nick Del Bianco kill to make it 14-13, and they would take that lead to the end.
With the score 20-19, the Spartans finished the set in dominating fashion as they went on a 5-0 run to complete the set at 25-19.
The Heat will take to the road for the third straight pair of games as they head to Calgary to play the University of Calgary Dinos for one doubleheader before the league settles in to the semester break. First game will be Friday Dec. 2 at 7 p.m. PST they play again on Saturday at 7 p.m. PST, both days the game will be played in the Jack Simpson Gymnasium on the University of Calgary campus.
The Spartans will now travel to Thompson Rivers to play the WolfPack Dec. 2-3.
Game Notes – TWU and UBC Okanagan each had four blocks. TWU had 36 digs to UBC Okanagan’s 23. TWU had four aces to the Heat’s two.