September 29, 2012, Langley, BC – The Trinity Western men’s volleyball team, representing Canada at the U23 Pan American Cup, saw its hopes of a gold medal dashed as they lost 3-0 (26-24, 25-15, 25-23) to Argentina Saturday at the Langley Events Centre and will now settle for a spot in Sunday’s bronze medal match.
Trinity Western was outplayed by a ball-control style Argentinian team that simply waited for the Spartans to make errors, while making very few itself, and took advantage when the home side eventually did. Frustrating the Spartans from start to finish, Argentina squeaked out win in the first set and then dominated the second before hanging on to win the third and final set.
After an impressive blocking performance Friday against Brazil, the Spartans were never able to set up an effective block against a sly group of Argentinians that only were stopped on five occasions.
With the win, Argentina, finishing the round robin with a 3-1 record, earned a spot in Sunday’s gold medal match against Brazil, which will be played at 5 p.m. The Spartans, who posted a 2-2 record in the round robin, will play the Dominican Republic for the bronze medal at 3 p.m. Both games will be played in the arena at the Langley Events Centre.
Canada was led by Brad Kufske, who had 15 kills and one block, and Nick Del Bianco, who had 10 kills and one block.
Argentina, who was playing without injured captain Gonzalo Quiroga for the third straight match, was led by Gonzalo Lapera as he had 21 kills while Luciano Zorneta added six kills and three blocks.
“I thought we got thoroughly outplayed by a superior team tonight,” said Spartans coach Ben Josephson. “Argentina is very skilled, especially in first touch. They’re reception and defence were very impressive. I’m hoping our team can learn from that that example. We served in enough but they just did a great job of not making errors.”
For Argentinian coach Fabian Muraco, this victory was a result of a well-executed tactical plan.
“We worked on a tactical plan that was very well-established because of the size and strength advantage of our rivals. We did a good job on reception, and are ready for Brazil.”
The Spartans were behind early on and for much of the opening set. But, despite trailing, they never allowed Argentina to sneak too far ahead. After battling back, with the score tied 21-21, a Nick Del Bianco kill gave the Spartans their first lead of the set. But with the set tied 24-24, however, Argentina closed it out with back-to-back points.
With momentum from the first set win, Argentina came out flying in the second set and quickly opened up a 10-5 lead. The Spartans were never able to recover. From there Argentina continued to push its ball-control agenda as they rolled to a 25-15 win.
The third set was much more like the first as it was tight throughout. With the Spartans up 12-10, Argentina went on a 5-0 set-turning run to take a 15-12 lead. Argentina led the rest of the way. Trinity Western closed the gap late, getting it to 23-22 and 24-23 but were unable to climb all the way back and ultimately lost by two points.
“Tonight’s match was frustrating,” said Spartans captain and setter Jarrod Offereins. “All the credit to Argentina because they played great. They stopped us defensively. They frustrated us. We tried to do too much in return and we fell apart as a group. We didn’t bring as much energy as we should have. Argentina played a great game and they were the better team tonight and they deserved the win.”
Argentina’s captain Gonzalo Quiroga added: “I am happy for the win and also to know that we will face Brazil and will be seeking revenge.”
NOTES – Argentina had a 41-34 edge in kills…Trinity Western had a 5-4 advantage in blocks…Argentina had 3 aces while the Spartans had none.
All matches for the event are being streamed live and are available on a pay per view basis through the following link: http://www.langleyeventscentre.com/u23volleyballcup. To buy tickets for the U-23 Pan American Volleyball Cup, go to www.langleyeventscentre.com or go to the TWU Bookstore on the Trinity Western University campus.