Bisons make comeback against Spartans

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January 19, 2013, Langley, BC (ISN) – With Dane Pischke (Winnipeg), Evan Jackson (Winnipeg) and Chris Voth (Winnipeg) leading the way offensively with 20, 16 and 11 kills respectively, the Bisons (9-6) cranked their game up to a different level after the second set and the Spartans (11-4) just couldn’t quite keep up.

After dropping the first two sets, No. 6 Manitoba rallied to win three straight as it earned a 3-2 (26-28, 19-25, 25-23, 25-21, 15-11) comeback win over the No. 3 Trinity Western men’s volleyball team Friday at the Langley Events Centre.

In the fifth set, the Bisons took a 9-9 tie and ran away with the match, scoring six of the last eight points and with a Jackson kill handed the Spartans their second five-set loss in a row. It’s also the second time in as many matches TWU has given up a 2-0 lead and lost and, after winning 26 straight matches at the LEC, this is their second loss in a row at home.

Beyond the Bisons hard-hitting threesome, setter Chris Komishon (Winnipeg) had 45 assists and 13 digs while libero Derek Nieroda (Headingly, Man.) had a match-high 19 digs. Pischke also added 17 digs.

The last time Manitoba beat TWU in Langley was Jan. 12, 2007 when it also won a five-setter.

Trinity Western setter Devyn Plett (Winnipeg), who was playing in his first match of the season, had a career-high 60 assists to go with 10 digs as he guided the Spartans offence as a starter for the first time in his career. Plett’s 60 assists puts him in tie with Josh Howatson’s effort against Alberta Jan. 28, 2006, for the third most assists in a single match in Spartans history. Howatson owns the Spartans record, with 66 in a match against Winnipeg Nov. 13, 2004, while Spartans current assistant coach Ben Ball is second, having put up 63 assists against Laval Mar. 13, 2010.

The Spartans had four players in double-digits for kills, led by Nick Del Bianco (Surrey, B.C.), who had 18 to go with a match-high four aces. Steven Marshall (Abbotsford, B.C.) was next with 14 kills, while Dan Jansen Van Doorn had 12 kills, on .556 attacking, and a match-high six blocks. Brad Kufske (Abbotsford, B.C.) added 12 kills and 12 digs. Last year’s CIS Libero of the Year Jarrod Offereins, who returned to his defensive position after setting last weekend against Brandon, had a team-high 14 digs.

“Manitoba played great over the last three sets,” said Spartans coach Ben Josephson. “They tried to neutralize our block by tipping and tipping in the first two sets and with Devyn out there, we’re pretty good in transition. So their original game plan didn’t work with Devyn on the floor. So then they tried to be really aggressive and I thought they just bullied us. They were more aggressive with their swings. They out-blocked and we had a lot of breakdowns systematically. They were getting a lot of free kills on bad decisions on our part.

“They raised the intensity level and they just outplayed us after the first two sets. Pischke was a beast after the second set. Between him and Voth’s serving and passing, those two players dominated our team. They’re both national team kids and that’s what national kids do when they have a chance to beat a rival on the road.”

After the Spartans possessed much of the lead in the early stages of the opening set, with TWU up 18-14, the Bisons turned the game around in a hurry. The Bisons went on an 8-0 run, capped by a block from Jackson, that gave Manitoba a 22-18 lead and decided momentum. But then, after trading points and the Bisons up 23-19, TWU came roaring back. With Jansen Van Doorn leading the Spartans charge, earning two kills and two blocks down the stretch, the Spartans completed the comeback. Defying set-point four times, TWU, down 26-25, scored three straight points to take the set. Del Bianco, who started the match with three aces amongst TWU’s first four points, got the crowd on its feet with the winning kill.

In the second set, the Spartans got things done with considerably less difficulty. Trinity Western went up 10-6 and never allowed the Bisons to get any closer than two points. After Manitoba closed to within three points, at 16-13, TWU scored four of the next five points to all but put the set to bed. The Spartans rolled from there, and a kill down the pipe from Del Bianco gave TWU the set.

The Bisons responded in the third set and established an early 6-3 advantage. While the Spartans managed to rally to take a 13-11 lead, this set seemed destined to be Manitoba’s from the outset. After going down by two, the Bisons went on a 6-1 run to take a 17-14 edge. Trinity Western made things interesting late, getting to within one point, at 24-23, but the Bisons weren’t about to allow the Spartans a second comeback win. After a Bisons timeout, Voth got the set-winning kill.

Manitoba came out in the fourth set on fire as it, led early by Jackson, who had three kills in the Bisons first six points, opened a 7-1 lead. But with Manitoba up 9-3, the Spartans made it a game. Largely with Kufske at the serving line, TWU got all the way back to within one point, at 10-9. But, like the third set, Manitoba didn’t let the Spartans complete the comeback. The Bisons possessed a lead the rest of the way, holding off a few late Spartans surges to win by four. A kill from Pischke sent the match to a fifth set.

The fifth set was tight early as the teams went back and forth to 9-9. However, with a kill from Pischke, the Bisons took a 10-9 lead and never trailed after that. With Manitoba up 13-11, another kill from Pischke followed by a Jackson kill completed the comeback.

Game Notes: The Spartans hit .278 as a team while Manitoba hit .274…TWU out-blocked Manitoba 10-7…Manitoba had 58 digs to TWU’s 54…TWU had a 10-4 advantage in aces…the last time these two teams played, it was the Spartans winning in five sets in the 2012 Canada West gold medal match Feb. 25 at the LEC.