Trinity Western Advances to Volleyball Final Four

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KINGSTON, Ont. (ISN) – The defending national champion Trinity Western Spartans easily advanced to the Final Four at the CIS men’s volleyball championship with a 25-14, 25-22, 25-17 victory over the Dalhousie Tigers in the last quarter-final of the tournament held at Queen’s University, Friday night.

Championship website: http://english.cis-sic.ca/championships/mvball/index

The win sets up an intriguing semifinal between top-seeded Trinity Western and tournament host Queen’s, Saturday at 8 p.m. Eastern. In the early semifinal, at 6 p.m., No. 2 Manitoba will battle No. 3 Laval.

The Spartans, who improved to 32-2 overall this season versus CIS opponents, hope to reach the national final for the third straight year. They claimed the second Tantramar Trophy in school history last winter with a straight-set win over Brandon, after losing the gold-medal match to Calgary in 2010.

Rounding up the Day 2 schedule are a pair of consolation match-ups. No. 6 Calgary faces No. 7 Western at 1 p.m., and No. 4 Alberta takes on No. 8 Dalhousie at 3 p.m.

Ben Ball, a fifth-year setter from Abbotsford, B.C., who was named the CIS player of the year on Thursday, earned game-MVP honours for the Canada West champions. Ball drove the Trinity Western attack from his position as he registered 38 assists which led to a team hitting percentage of .468. He also had two kills on two attacks, seven digs and four blocks.

For AUS champion Dalhousie, Kenneth Rauwerda of Calgary was the top performer on offence and defence, registering a team high nine kills in addition to seven digs and a block. He was named the Tigers player of the match.

“It was good to get out on the court finally after being here all week, first set I thought we were a little inefficient,” said CIS coach of the year Ben Josephson. “I was worried how we came out but our guys found their rhythm and played some good volleyball.”

Dalhousie head coach Dan Ota attributed the Tigers’ struggles to a slow start.

“I think our guys got better as the match went on, but by then Trinity was rolling and all their hitters are in a good rhythm and their setter was running a great offence. We made a couple of good pushes but by then the flow of the match was too much in their favor.”

The Spartans earned the first point in the first set and gradually built on their lead throughout the frame. Dalhousie couldn’t handle the Trinity Western attack in the first half of the set and the Spartans entered the first technical timeout of the game with an eight point lead, 16-8.

Dalhouse exited the technical timeout with momentum as they earned the first three points out of the break. They couldn’t close the gap any further however as Trinity Western scored six unanswered points to increase their lead to 22-11. The teams traded points to end the set and the Spartans captured the first set.

The Tigers kept the second set much tighter as Trinity Western couldn’t build momentum thanks to a stronger Dalhousie attack. The Spartans built up a five point lead heading into the technical timeout as they led Dalhousie by a 16-11 margin.

The Tigers reeled the Spartans back in after the timeout as the teams traded points down the stretch to close out the set. Graham Higgins of Scarborough, Ont., and Kenneth Rauwerda of Calgary combined for seven kills during the comeback, but their efforts were not enough as the Spartans fought the Tigers off after they had narrowed the lead to 21-20. Trinity Western took five of the final six points in the set to earn a 25-22 set victory.

Dalhousie got off to a great start in the third set as they matched the Spartans point for point to open the frame. They took their first lead of the game early in the third set when they pulled ahead by a 6-5 margin. The Spartans fought back, forcing four lead changes and making sure the Tigers didn’t get any closer than 11-10, as they went into the technical timeout up by a 16-11 margin.

The set was all Spartans after the timeout as they scored four of the next five points to increase their lead to 20-13. From there Trinity Western controlled the flow of play and earned a 25-17 set win to take the game in straight sets.

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