Schmidt Leads Spartans to Sweep over Wesmen

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Mark Janzen

LANGLEY, British Columbia – The No.1 Trinity Western men’s volleyball team kept its perfect season in tact as they completed a weekend sweep of the No. 10 Winnipeg Wesmen with a 3-0 (25-1110, 27-25, 25-23) win Saturday at the Langley Events Centre.

Despite another scrappy effort from the visiting Wesmen, one in which they out-blocked the Spartans eight to seven, on this night, unlike Friday night, Trinity Western ended things early as the young guys led the Spartans attack with Branden Schmidt and Derek Thiessen getting the lion’s share of the Spartans kills en route to the three-set win.

Schmidt finished the game with 10 kills, while not committing a single attacking error, five blocks and five digs while Thiessen had seven kills and added three blocks and Lucas Van Berkel had seven kills, six digs and two blocks. Setter Ben Ball had 41 assists and 11 digs.

For Winnipeg, it was Ty Loewen leading the way with 11 kills and four digs, while Devin Schmidt had seven kills and three blocks and Brendan Black had six kills, five blocks and four digs.

The win improves the Spartans record to 14-0 on the season while the loss drops Winnipeg to 6-10.

“They were a great opponent again and they really frustrated us,” said Spartan coach Ben Josephson. “They made us scrap and dig. They played great. I thought our guys grinded for the first two sets enough to get through and our middle attacking was great and that carried the day for us.

“Maybe the secret is out there now but we have some great athletes on our bench. Branden is actually a junior national team left side player and he’s a pretty amazing middle player and he showed that tonight, especially offensively. And Derek has been getting better every weekend. It’s fun to watch him play. He plays with such energy and passion and positivity that it’s good to see him perform as good as his emotion was.”

After a back and forth start to the first set, the Spartans started to pull away in the mid-stages, opening a 14-110 lead. From there, Trinity Western didn’t allow the Wesmen to get any closer than three points. With Winnipeg making it 21-18, the Spartans squashed any hopes of a Wesmen comeback as they took four of the last five points to win the set 25-1110.

The Spartans had four different players with three kills in the first set while Winnipeg’s Ty Loewen led the Wesmen with three kills.

In the second set, it was tight throughout as neither team allowed for the opposition to take off on any sort of extended runs. With the score 18-18, Winnipeg got four of the next five points, capped by a Black kill, which gave the visitors a 21-1110 edge. The Wesmen maintained that lead up until set point at 24-22.

But then Marc Howatson took charge.

With a kill, he made it 24-23. Then Howatson made a block to tie it 24-24. Then, after the teams traded points, Howatson had another kill to make it 26-25 for Trinity Western before he went to the serving line and ripped a set-winning ace.

The set saw 16 tie scores and six lead changes.

In the third set, with Winnipeg replacing Stephane Waldie at libero with Riley Delavau, the Wesmen started the third set on a tear as they built an early 13-7 advantage.

Trailing by six, the Spartans got a monster kill from Brad Kufske and from there, the Spartans started rolling. Trinity Western took four straight points to make it a two-point game at 13-11.

Trinity Western kept battling back and eventually tied it up 15-15. Then, after a Spartans serving error gave the Wesmen a one-point lead at the technical timeout, Trinity Western seemingly took over. The Spartans got the next three points to take an 18-16 lead.

But Winnipeg came right back, taking six of the next nine points that gave the Wesmen a 22-21 lead. After that though, the Spartans went on a 4-1 run capped by a, most fittingly, Schmidt and Thiessen block to win the set and the match.

Both teams will be back in action next weekend as the Spartans will travel to play Manitoba while the Wesmen will host UBC, both Jan. 27-28.

Game Notes – The Wesmen finished with eight blocks compared to TWU’s seven…TWU finished with a .250 attacking percentage while Winnipeg hit .208…TWU had six aces to Winnipeg’s two.

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