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February 15, 2013, Langley, BC (ISN) – The No. 3 Trinity Western men’s volleyball team grabbed Game 1 of its Canada West quarter-final best-of-three series with No. 9 Winnipeg. 

Spartans take a  3-0 (25-23, 25-20, 25-20) win Thursday at the Langley Events Centre.

With a balanced attack that saw Nick Del Bianco (Surrey, B.C.) collect a match-high 16 kills, Marshall produce 11 and Brad Kufske (Abbotsford, B.C.) earn 10, while the TWU middles, Dan Jansen Van Doorn (Langley) and Lucas Van Berkel (Edmonton), combined for 12 kills, the Spartans took an early lead in each set and then held off a feisty Winnipeg side down the stretch to earn the straight sets win.

In the third set, hitting .452, the Spartans possessed the lead from 6-5 onward and, with an ace from Steven Marshall (Abbotsford, B.C.), TWU earned the win.

Setter Jarrod Offereins (Calgary) collected 45 assists to help the Spartans to a .363 hitting percentage, while libero Tyler Koslowsky (Abbotsford) was solid defensively, picking up a team-high 12 digs.Offereins’ assist total is the third most in TWU history in a three-set match, bettered only by a 47-assist effort by Josh Howatson against Calgary Jan. 21, 2006 and a 46-assist performance by Jon Rowe against UCLA Oct.10, 2003.

For Winnipeg, it was Tom Douglas-Powell (Brisbane, Australia) leading the way with 13 kills along with two aces, six digs and one block. Kenneth McKenzie (Gimli, Man.) added six kills and three blocks while Brendan Black (Winnipeg) had five blocks and three kills. Setter Josh McKay (Winnipeg) had 32 assists, a team-high 12 digs and three blocks.

The Spartans and Wesmen will clash again Friday in Game 2 at 8 p.m. If necessary, Game 3 will be played Saturday at 2:30 p.m. The winner of the quarter-final series will advance to the Canada West Final Four, which will be played Feb. 22-23 in Edmonton at the University of Alberta. The top three teams at the Final Four will qualify for the CIS national championship, which will be played Mar. 1-3 in Quebec City at the University of Laval.

“I’m pleased with the execution in three out of our four key phases,” said Spartans coach Ben Josephson. “I thought our block stability let us down and that was partially due to the way they attacked us, but I think it’s still something we need to clean up. I thought our hitters were pretty efficient and I think the spreads in the sets were indicative of the game. Our opponents didn’t go away, but at the same time our guys didn’t crumble when we allowed them to get back in the game in the middle sections.

“I didn’t think Winnipeg was bad tonight but I’ve seen them play much sharper. I think their coach (Larry McKay) will figure out something different and, for us to be successful tomorrow, we’ll need to find different solutions and then evolve quickly as we see what they’ve changed. I expect tomorrow to be a long five-set grinder.”

The Spartans came out of the gates on fire as they opened the match with five straight points and forced Winnipeg to take a timeout before it could even earn a point. Trinity Western pushed its lead to as much as seven points, at 9-2, before the Wesmen started to battle back. After Winnipeg earned two points to make it a five-point difference, the teams traded barbs until 18-13. But then, with Douglas-Powell leading the way with two of his five kills in the set, the Wesmen went on a 7-2 run that tied the set 20-20.

However, after swapping points until 23-23, back-to-back kills from Marshall and Del Bianco gave TWU the set, 25-23.

Del Bianco finished the set with six kills while Marshall added five. Offereins had 17 assists in leading TWU to a .341 hitting percentage. Winnipeg’s McKay had 13 assists as the Wesmen put together a .237 attacking percentage.

In the second set, the Spartans once again nabbed an early lead as they turned a 6-6 tie into a 14-7 edge with an 8-1 run. But like the first set, Winnipeg didn’t go away. Three times the Wesmen got to within three points but ultimately, they couldn’t get any closer. Despite Winnipeg collecting four blocks and two aces, it was six serving errors by the Wesmen that contributed a large part to their undoing. With TWU up 24-20, it was again a Del Bianco kill that earned the Spartans the win.

In the third set, while the Wesmen kept it close throughout, the Spartans managed to pull it out late and earn the match in the minimum three sets. After TWU took a 6-5 lead, it never trailed the rest of the way. The Spartans extended their advantage to as much as four points on several occasions each but, not until the final point of the match could the home side build a lead any larger. The Wesmen got to within one point in the late stages twice, at 20-19 and 21-20, but the Spartans scored the sets final four points to earn the win. An ace by Marshall gave TWU the winning point.

Game Notes: Winnipeg had an 8-5 edge in blocks…both teams had 3 aces…TWU had 10 serving errors to Winnipeg’s 8.