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LANGLEY, British Columbia (ISN) 
– The No. 1 ranked Trinity Western men’s volleyball captured the Canada West gold medal with a 3-2 (25-23, 27-29, 23-25, 25-14, 15-9) win over No. 2 Manitoba Saturday at the Langley Events Centre.

The Spartans, with, by game’s end, a 21.5 to 10.5 blocking advantage and .250 to .151 attacking percentage advantage, rallied from a 2-1 deficit in sets to take the fourth set 25-14 and then rolled that momentum into the fifth set as they won the final set 15-9 and in doing so will go into the CIS national championship as the likely No. 1 seed. This is the second time the Spartans have won the Canada West championship as they previously won in 2007.

Both teams will now travel to Kingston, Ont. for the national championship hosted by Queen’s Mar. 8-10.

Trinity Western was led by Steven Marshall, who had 19 kills, eight digs and five blocks, Rudy Verhoeff, who had 16 kills, 13 digs and four blocks and Marc Howatson, who had 13 kills, 11 digs and six blocks. Setter Ben Ball had 59 assists, seven blocks, eight digs and four kills.

For Manitoba it was Chris Voth leading the way with 18 kills, three blocks and seven digs, while Dane Pischke had 17 kills and 22 digs and setter Chris Komishon had 47 assists and 14 digs.

With the win, the Spartans also tie their all-time record for wins in a season at 31. This year they are 31-2, which equals last year’s mark for wins as they were 31-10.

“That was a tough game,” said Spartans coach Ben Josephson. “You have to give credit to Manitoba and coach [Garth] Pischke because they were awesome. I thought we were rolling. We played well in the first and then we were up in the second 18-13 and feeling good but then they just went to a new gear and we were reeling for a couple sets. We haven’t been in a match like that since maybe last year at nationals. Right now, relief is the feeling because I think we dodged a bullet a little bit. But it feels good to get the win.”

While the first set was tight throughout, the Spartans were ahead or tied from start to finish.

After Manitoba rallied from a 7-4 deficit to tie it 9-9, the teams traded points until Trinity Western took the lead for good after a Dan Jansen Van Doorn block made it 15-14.

The Spartans opened up as much as a four-point lead at 21-17 after a Lucas Van Berkel block but Manitoba came right back with a 4-1 run and, after a Voth kill, trailed by just one 22-21.

Trinity Western once again went on the offensive, scoring two more, giving itself a chance to serve for the set at 24-21. The Bisons closed to within one point at 24-23 but a Jansen Van Doorn kill finished the set with the Spartans up 25-23.

In the second set, with the Bisons up 6-5, Trinity Western went on a 4-0 run to take a 9-6 lead and seize early momentum.

But Manitoba roared right back, managing to open an 11-9 lead after a block from Pischke and Joseph Brooks.

With the score 13-12 for the Bisons, the Spartans went on what seemed like, at the time, to be a set-changing 6-0 run that gave Trinity Western an 18-13 lead. But immediately after Manitoba started to chip away at the Spartans lead, eventually tying it up 23-23 after a Ryan Munt kill. From there, it was back and forth, going beyond 25 points, with Manitoba finally grabbing the win and tying the match after a Chris Komishon ace gave the Bisons a 29-27 win.

In the third set, Manitoba took a 10-7 lead and had the game’s momentum. With Manitoba still up by three at 19-16, the Spartans went on a 4-0 run that gave them a one-point edge at 20-19. The Bisons though score the next three points, capped by a kill from Voth, that gave them a two-point lead and they never trailed the rest of the way. Pischke had a set-ending kill to earn a 25-23 win.

With Trinity Western trailing 2-1 after the third set, the Spartans turned the game around right from the get-go in the fourth.

The Spartans took a 5-2 lead and were never behind in the set as they hit a match-high .385 in the set en route to a 25-14 win. Manitoba conversely hit .097 and with a Van Berkel kill to end the set, the Spartans sent the game to a fifth set.

In that fifth set, Trinity Western raced out to a 7-3 lead, which forced Manitoba into taking a timeout.

Out of the timeout however, the Spartans kept buzzing as they never let the Bisons get any closer than two points the rest of the way. With the score 12-9 for Trinity Western, the Spartans scored three straight points – a kill from Verhoeff, followed by back-to-back Spartans blocks – to seal the win and the conference title.

Trinity Western held Manitoba to .000 hitting in the fifth set while the Spartans themselves hit .278.

Game Notes: Manitoba had 79 digs to TWU’s 64…TWU had six aces to Manitoba’s four.