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December 3, 2012,  KELOWNA, British Columbia – The No. 3 Trinity Western men’s volleyball team rallied from a 2-0 deficit to win three straight sets as it knocked off UBC Okanagan 3-2 (20-25, 22-25, 25-19, 25-13, 15-9) Sunday at the UBC-O Gymnasium.

After dropping the first two sets, the Spartans were dominant over the final three as they hit .375 as a team and only committed seven attack errors. By comparison, the Spartans had seven attack errors in each of their first two sets. After committing 23 service errors with just four aces Saturday, the Spartans were much improved from the serving line Sunday as they had only eight errors while earning eight aces.

For the Heat, after appearing on the cusp of their first win of the season, it saw its game fall apart down the stretch as it was unable to slow a Spartans team that seemed determined to complete the comeback.

With the win, TWU goes into the Christmas break with a 10-2 record while the Heat remains winless on the season as it will finish the fall semester at 0-12.

The Spartans were led by Nick Del Bianco (Surrey, B.C.), who had 22 kills to go along with three aces and 11 digs. Brad Kufske (Abbotsford, B.C.) added 13 kills and three blocks while Steven Marshall (Abbotsford) had 10 kills and a match-high 17 digs. Lucas Van Berkel (Edmonton) had a team-high five blocks while setter Scott Plocktis (Kelowna) had 47 assists.

The Heat was led by Brett Uniat who had 12 kills, four digs and six blocks, two of which were solo blocks. Setter Jon Russo, playing outside hitter on Sunday afternoon, had 13 kills and eight digs. Riley McFarland had 11 kills, six blocks and 11 digs while Greg Niemantsverdriet added 12 kills and eight digs.

“It was a tale of two games,” said Spartans coach Ben Josephson. “The first half our opponents were on fire. They had a really nice game plan for us and exploited some things we weren’t doing well and made some great adjustments from the previous night. We made some changes mid-match and we executed those things really well and made great decisions. This time of year it’s hard to play great volleyball and improve as a team. It’s sometimes really just about trying to find a way to win matches and our guys did what they needed to do tonight to get the victory.

“After the injuries we sustained in the preseason, we were a little concerned about how the fall was going to go. To finish the semester at 10-2, we’re really pleased with how we’ve positioned ourselves through the first half. This break is going to be really important for us and allow us to get some rest because the real work starts after Christmas.”

The teams traded points early in the first set and after several exchanges found themselves tied 10-10. However, that’s when UBC-O went on a 5-1 run that gave the Heat a lead it would take to 25 points. A kill by Niemantsverdriet ended the set with the Heat up 25-20.

In the second set, it was more of the same from the Heat. This time UBC-O’s 5-1 set-turning run came a few points earlier as the home side turned a 7-7 tie into a 12-8 advantage. The Spartans crawled to within one point at 23-22, but then a kill by McFarland and a block by Jim Bell on Van Berkel gave UBC-O the set by three points.

The match changed in the third set. Trinity Western came out with a renewed focus and opened an 11-5 lead. The Heat was unable to recover and with a block by Plocktis and Branden Schmidt, the Spartans extended the match to a fourth set.

And in that fourth set, TWU seized control early on when it took an 8-7 lead and, with a pair of Kufske kills sandwiching a Del Bianco kill, pushed its advantage to 11-7. Then with a 16-12 lead, the Spartans took the set with a 9-1 run, capped by an untouched Marshall ace.

With all the momentum on its side, TWU just kept on rolling in the fifth set. With four straight points, the Spartans turned a 3-3 tie into a 7-3 lead and from there, UBC-O couldn’t stop TWU. With a kill from the Spartans Del Bianco, TWU won the set 15-9.

The Spartans are back in action Jan. 10 and 12 when they will host Brandon while UBC-O will travel to Regina Jan. 12-13.

Game Notes: TWU hit .265 compared to UBC-O’s .226…UBC-O had 11 blocks, including five solo blocks, compared to TWU, who had a total of 7 blocks…for the second straight match and third in four outings, the Spartans played without middle Dan Jansen Van Doorn.