Spartans Earn Weekend Sweep Over Alberta For First Time In History

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Mark Janzen

LANGLEY, British Columbia – The No.1 Trinity Western men’s volleyball team completed a two-game sweep of the No. 3 Alberta Golden Bears with a 3-0 (25-20, 25-23, 25-19) win Saturday at the David E. Enarson Gymnasium.

The Spartans used an efficient attack from start to finish – ending up at .364 per cent for the match compared to .244 for Alberta – and a sound blocking game – winning the blocking battle 9.5 to two – as Trinity Western swept the Golden Bears, having won Friday night 3-1, in a Canada West weekend series for the first time in the program’s history.

The Spartans were led by Dan Jansen Van Doorn, who had 10 kills, five blocks and three aces, Rudy Verhoeff, who had 11 kills, seven digs and three blocks, and Marc Howatson, who had nine kills, seven digs and four blocks.

The Bears were led by Taylor Hunt, who had 12 kills, five digs and three aces, Mitch Irvine, who had nine kills, six digs and a block, and Jarron Mueller, who had 28 assists, 12 digs and two aces.

The win improves to Spartans to 12-0 on the Canada West season while the loss drops Alberta to 8-4.

“The guys made great adjustments from last night,” said Spartans coach Ben Josephson. “Our middles needed to get faster. We needed to clean up our block on Irvine. Our reception had to be cleaned up a little bit. And our guys fixed all of those things. Our middle’s tempo created some more problems so they scored really efficiently. I thought Benny (Ball) was a lot better tonight. We just had some really big performances at key stretches from guys.

“Getting a two-night sweep is difficult against anybody but when it’s your rival and when it’s a team as talented as they are and a coach as great as Terry (Danyluk) is, it’s extra special. I thought our guys played hard tonight and they earned every bit of what they got.”

In the first set, it was back and forth right from the get-go as neither team took even so much as a two-point advantage until the Spartans finally broke through at 13-11 after a Verhoeff ace.

After that, the Spartans never trailed. With the score 21-19 for Trinity Western, following an Irvine and Matt McCreary block that got Alberta within two points, the Spartans went on a set-ending 4-1 run, capped by a Howatson dunk-style kill to give the home side a five-point win in what was an otherwise tight set.

Howatson had a set-high five kills to lead the Spartans, who, as a team, hit .429 compared to Alberta, who was just .276 in the first set.

In the second set, the Spartans dictated the play early as they marched out to a quick 7-3 advantage. The Bears, however responded with a 10-3 run, aided by a pair of aces from Mueller late in the run.

But the Spartans Verhoeff came right back with a big momentum-turning kill that sparked a 3-0 run to knot the game 13-13.

From there it was tight until the end. And with the score 24-23 for Trinity Western, Verhoeff finished things off with an emphatic kill and his fifth of the set.

In the third set, the Steven Marshall highlight reel got the Spartans rolling as he made a couple of unreal digs to salvage points for the Spartan early as he, along with Nick Del Bianco, who had back-to-back aces, helped Trinity Western to a 5-1 lead.

The Spartans continued to push their agenda throughout the set and built as much as a 21-14 lead.

Alberta put a scare in the Spartans and their raucous home crowd late as they scored five straight points to make it 21-19, capped by an Irvine kill, but Trinity Western replied with four straight points of their own to end the Bears momentum and complete the weekend sweep.

The Spartans return to the Langley Events Centre, Jan. 20-21, when they will host Winnipeg while Alberta will be back out in B.C. next weekend to take on UBC Okanagan.

Game Notes – Trinity Western had 11 aces to Alberta’s five…the Spartans had nine attack errors while Alberta had 13.

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