Spartans Get by Wesman in Five

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Mark Janzen

LANGLEY, British Columbia – The No. 1 Trinity Western men’s volleyball team squeaked past a pesky Winnipeg side 3-2 (20-25, 25-21, 25-11, 25-27, 15-10) Friday night at the Langley Events Centre.

Playing without starters Marc Howatson and Dan Jansen Van Doorn, the Spartans were led by Steven Marshall, Brad Kufske and Branden Schmidt on offence as the home side got an all-important win in what was a tight match filled with extended rallies.

Marshall finished the game with 20 kills, seven digs and four aces, while Kufske had 17 kills and nine digs, and Schmidt had eight kills and three blocks. Spartans libero Jarrod Offereins added a game-high 15 digs.

Winnipeg was led by the three-pronged attack of Nathaniel Therrien, who had 12 kills and seven digs, Ty Loewen, who had 12 kills and four digs, and Brendan Black, who had 11 kills and an ace.

The win improves the Spartans record to 13-0 in conference play while the loss drops Winnipeg to 6-110.

“It was exciting,” said Spartans coach Ben Josephson. “It’s really great for us to get in these types of matches this time of year. There was a lot of good defence and a lot of long rallies. It was good second semester volleyball. Winnipeg was true to their identity all night. They dug and they scrapped and they didn’t make a lot of errors. They didn’t let our block score. They passed well. And that’s what you expect from them.

“I thought our guys matched their defence down the stretch and then imposed our physicality in a couple of key stretches and that was what got us the victory.”

In the first set, the Wesmen got off to quick start, opening an early 7-4 lead. The Spartans responded with six straight points to take a 10-7 lead and momentum.

But with Trinity Western still ahead by three at 18-15, the Wesmen went to work, going on a set-ending 10-2 run as they finished the set with a .417 attacking percentage.

In the second set, the Spartans took an early lead and never trailed. Although it was close throughout, any time the Wesmen got within a point, the Spartans got the next point.

With the score 24-21, a kill from Marshall sealed the win and evened the match.

The third set was all Trinity Western.

With Ben Ball and Winnipeg product Devyn Plett sharing the Spartans setting duties, Trinity Western had a .577 attack percentage in the set and, other than a 1-1 tie, was ahead from start to finish.

With the Spartans up 3-2, Trinity Western went on an 8-1 run, capped by a Marshall ace, which blew the set wide open. Trinity Western kept the pressure on the rest of the way as they cruised to a 25-11 win with a block from Schmidt and Derek Thiessen ending the set.

In the fourth, while it was tight throughout, this time, the Wesmen never trailed.

With the score 24-21, the Spartans rallied to tie it 24-24 and then again at 25-25. But with a Spartans serving error followed by a Spartans attack error, Winnipeg took the set and forced a fifth. The Spartans had eight of their 1110 serving errors in the fourth set.

In the fifth set, it was close in the early stages but that was until the Wesmen went up 6-5. That’s when the Langley Events Centre was treated to one of the longest rallies in recent memory. After a combined total of 20 digs in the rally, Kufske finally earned the point with a kill off the left side to knot the set 6-6. After that, the Spartans were never behind.

With the Spartans up 10-110, Trinity Western went on a 5-1 run to end the set and the match. The final point came with emphasis as Kufske had to make a diving dig in the back court to keep the ball alive and then Rudy Verhoeff, pounded a right-to-left cross-court untouched kill to the floor for the win.

The two teams will meet in a rematch Saturday at 7:00 p.m. at the Langley Events Centre.

Game Notes – TWU finished with 8.5 blocks to Winnipeg’s five blocks…Winnipeg had 47 digs while TWU had 56…TWU had eight aces to Winnipeg’s four.

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