LANGLEY, British Columbia – The No. 1 Trinity Western men’s volleyball team earned a 3-0 (25-23, 25-23, 25-22) non-conference win over Ontario’s Queen’s Gaels Monday night at the Langley Events Centre.
The Spartans, who rolled their starters for all three sets, used an efficient attack, hitting .329 (previously said .357) Queen’s .232, and the hot hand of Rudy Verhoeff, who had 13 kills and seven blocks, to knock off the Gaels in short, albeit close, order.
Aside from Verhoeff, Trinity Western was led by Marc Howatson, who had nine kills, Lucas Van Berkel, who had seven kills and five blocks, and Ben Ball, who had 32 assists and 10 digs.
The Gaels were led by Joren Zeeman, who had 10 kills and a set-high three service aces, Michael Amoroso, who had eight kills and two blocks and Jackson Dakin, who had a game-high 37 assists.
Trinity Western is now 19-1 against CIS competition, including a 10-0 record in Canada West play, while Queen’s has an overall record of 7-19, including a 5-4 record in OUA action.
“It looked like the first game back,” said Spartans coach Ben Josephson. “All of our fine touch skills were really sloppy. Basically our reception, serving and all of our really tight tempo middles and pipes were a bit off. But we did a pretty good job on the bulk skills, which are the high ball blocking, the hard driven digs and that sort of stuff.
“It’s a little bit different playing a team that you don’t need to beat in conference. You don’t need to worry about secrets and all that stuff. But they’re a great team. They have a lot of great players. They’re well-coached and they’re a fun team to scrimmage with. We’re getting exactly what we need out of this and I hope they’re getting what they need.”
In the first set the Spartans came out of the gate the stronger side as they staked themselves to a quick 3-1 lead and never trailed the rest of the way. The Gaels tied it 3-3 after back-to-back kills from Anthony Pitfield but Trinity Western responded with a 6-0 run that broke the game wide open.
The Spartans went on to earn 11-6 and 14-9 leads before the visitors started to claw their way back into the set. After a Steven Marshall attack error, the Gaels tied the game 23-23 and seemed primed to pull off the comeback. But Trinity Western’s Van Berkel replied with a kill, to make it 24-23, and then a block assist, with help from Howatson and Verhoeff, to extinguish the Gaels momentum and claim the opening frame.
Verhoeff finished the set with a set-high seven kills while Queen’s outside Zeeman added five kills for the Gaels.
The second set started in similar fashion as Trinity Western once again dominated the early stages. With the score 6-4 in favour of the Spartans, the home side utilized an impressive Van Berkel serving effort to take off on a 6-0 run.
But like the first set, Queen’s didn’t go away quietly.
The Gaels roared back with a 7-2 run to make it 14-11 and then simply kept rolling. Queen’s tied the game 16-16 after a Howatson attack error and then, after falling behind 20-18, went on a 5-1 run to take a 23-21 advantage.
But then, the set turned the Spartans way.
With the Gaels possessing a two point lead, an out of bounds call that initially went Queen’s way, one that would have given Queen’s a chance to serve for the set, was overturned and re-served. The Spartans Howatson got the next point with a kill off the left wing and, in doing so, launched a 4-0 Trinity Western run that gave the Spartans a 25-23 win.
The third set was similar to the first two in the result but vastly different in the process.
The game was back and forth right from the first serve as neither team took more than a two-point lead until a Zeeman service ace gave Queen’s a 16-13 advantage.
The Spartans responded with a 4-1 run to make it 17-17 and then, with the score tied 21-21, took the game over with a set-clinching 4-1 run which was capped by Rudy Verhoeff’s 13th kill of the night.
The teams played an exhibition fourth set, which the Spartans won 28-26 after rallying from a 24-20 deficit.
The two teams will play in a rematch Tuesday night at 6:00 p.m. at the Langley Events Centre.
Game Notes – The Spartans had 9.5 blocks to Queen’s 6.5…Queen’s had five aces while TWU had four.