Spartans Earn Second Place With Win Over No.1 Alberta

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February 10, 2013, Edmonton, AB (ISN) – The No.5 Trinity Western men’s volleyball team locked up second place in the Canada West conference with a win over No.1 Alberta Saturday at the Saville Community Sports Centre.

The win sees the Spartans finish the regular season with a record of 16-6 and edge out 15-win Saskatchewan and UBC for second spot.

The Spartans will host Winnipeg, who finished seventh in the conference with an 11-11 record, in the Canada West best-of-three quarter-finals Feb. 14, 15 and, if necessary, 16 at the Langley Events Centre. When TWU and Winnipeg met in the regular season earlier this year, they split their weekend series in Winnipeg, with the Wesmen winning 3-1 Friday and the Spartans taking Saturday’s match 3-2.

The loss gives Alberta a 20-2 regular season finish, which is a Canada West record for most win in a single season. The Golden Bears had sewn up first place in the conference weeks ago, and will now enjoy a bye before hosting the Canada West Final Four Feb. 22-24.

The CIS championship is March 1-3 at Laval, and the top three finishers from the Canada West Final Four will advance to the national championship tournament.

After dropping a four-setter Friday night, the Spartans turned things around with a convincing win Saturday that saw TWU win its three sets by a combined 28 points. Spartans setter Jarrod Offereins (Calgary) tied his career-high for assists, with 46, to guide the Spartans to a .440 hitting percentage for the match. Alberta countered by hitting just .185 as a team. Offereins also earned 46 assists earlier this season against Brandon Jan. 12.

Brad Kufske (Abbotsford, B.C.) led the Spartans with 18 kills while Nick Del Bianco (Surrey, B.C.) added 11 and Steven Marshall (Abbotsford) had 10. Del Bianco also had a match-high four aces. John Wiebe (Abbotsford) had a match-high 10 digs.

For Alberta, Jay Olmstead had a team-high 12 kills while setter Brett Walsh, who replaced Jarron Mueller midway through the contest, had a team-high 27 assists.

“The guys responded amazingly well to last night,” said Spartans coach Ben Josephson. “Last night, we played well in a couple of phases but let a couple of things get away. Tonight, we cleaned up those plays that got away and we actually improved on some other areas. Our serving game came along well and I thought Jarrod had his best setting match of his career, which allowed our offence to play at a really high level. The stability and patience we showed and the pressure we kept Alberta under in that fourth set was great.”

The Spartans were pushing for the win right from the beginning and didn’t take their foot off the gas the whole evening. Kufske scored five in the first set as he posted a .714 hitting percentage. Trinity Western had a .448 hitting percentage in the first, while Alberta sunk to .107 thanks to seven attack errors.

Another six attack errors plagued the Bears in the second, as the home side struggled to pass the ball with any effectiveness. The Spartans took advantage of Alberta’s miscues, cracking off another 12 kills in the second to win handily by a 25-13 score.

The Bears tightened their game up considerably in the third, and easily played their best volleyball of the night, registering a 25-19 win. With Walsh having entered the match late in the second set, the Bears seemed to find a spark as he picked up 14 third set assists and helped the Bears to a .424 hitting percentage. Middle Tristan Aubry, playing in his final home regular season game, managed five kills in the third, while Olmstead picked up four.

Trinity Western came back hard in the fourth however, as it racked up an incredible .650 team hitting percentage to win the set 25-13, and the match 3-1. Del Bianco (Surrey, B.C.) scored three kills and an ace in the fourth set, while Kufske had four kills.

Alberta’s Mitch Irvine, also playing in his final regular season home weekend, picked up 10 kills on the night, as well as an ace and eight digs, while fifth-year libero Erik Mattson brought up five TWU attacks. Mattson now has over 700 kills in his CIS career, one of just four others in Canada West history to have that many.

Game Notes: On 100 attacks, the Spartans had just 8 errors…Alberta had 23 errors on 119 attacks…TWU had a 10.5 to 7 edge in block…TWU had a 6-3 advantage in aces.

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