Spartans Beat Wesmen in Five, Advance to Canada West Final Four

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February 16, 2013, Langley, BC (ISN) – The No. 3 Trinity Western men’s volleyball needed five sets, but it managed to eke out a win over No. 9 Winnipeg to complete their Canada West quarter-final best-of-three series sweep Friday at the Langley Events Centre.

3-2 (25-22, 20-25, 27-25, 23-25, 15-4)

With the win, combined with Thursday’s straight sets Game 1 victory, the two-time defending CIS champion Spartans advanced to the Canada West Final Four, which will be played in Edmonton at the University of Alberta Feb. 22-23. The top three teams at the Final Four advance to the CIS national championship, which will be contested at Quebec City’s University of Laval Mar. 1-3.

A scrappy Winnipeg side pushed the Spartans to the limit but, in the fifth set, the Spartans Lucas Van Berkel (Edmonton) served TWU to a 5-0 lead and the home side never looked back. Earning eight kills on 10 attempts with no errors, TWU rolled to a 15-4 fifth set win to take the match and the series.

With the Spartans trailing 22-17 in the third set and looking bound to go down two sets to one, the home side battled all the way back to win the set 27-25 and nab momentum when all seemed lost. With TWU behind 24-23, serving substitute Ryan Sclater (Port Coquitlam, B.C.) came off the bench and served an untouched ace and then made an impressive dig on the next point that ultimately helped the Spartans earn the win.

“Those two plays by Sclater to get us the lead at 25-24 is huge,” said Spartans coach Ben Josephson. “For a freshman to do that, that’s just awesome.”

Trinity Western was led by Nick Del Bianco (Surrey, B.C.), who had 22 kills, 11 digs and four blocks, and Van Berkel, who had 10 kills, three blocks and two aces. Steven Marshall (Abbotsford, B.C.) added 16 kills while Dan Jansen Van Doorn (Langley) had a match-high 11 blocks, including four in the fifth set. Setter Jarrod Offereins (Calgary) had a career-high 57 assists, bettering his previous high of 46, which he earned twice earlier this year. Offereins’ assist total is also the seventh highest in TWU history.

For Winnipeg, Tom Douglas-Powell (Brisbane, Australia) led the Wesmen with 21 kills to go with nine digs and two aces, while Casey Schouten (East St. Paul, Man.) added 18 kills and 11 digs. Setter Josh McKay had 48 assists to go with a team-high 12 digs.

“Larry McKay is the best coach I’ve ever coached against,” Josephson said of the Winnipeg coach. “He knows the strengths of his group and the weaknesses of ours and he was able to put a plan together and teach his guys how to do it overnight. I think what ultimately happened was the better coached team pushed the more talented team and arguably should have one that game, if not for that late surge in the third set. It’s honour to beat a coach like that.

“I thought our middle players were dominant and did their jobs. All three of our outside hitters had spurts of really great play and then other spurts where we need to fix some things. I didn’t think Jarrod was great, but he did enough to help the team win.”

In the first set, the Spartans raced out to an 8-3 lead and then pushed that advantage to as much as seven points, at 16-9. However, the Wesmen roared all the way back to tie the set 20-20. However, after a Cameron Baydock kill (Winnipeg) tied it 22-22, the Spartans finished the set with three straight points and, after an Offereins ace, escaped with the win.

The second set saw the Spartans go up 16-12 and looked to have the set and the match’s momentum. But the set turned when three straight Douglas-Powell kills launched an 8-0 run that gave the visitors a 20-16 lead. The teams traded points down the stretch before Matthew Stubler (Winnipeg) earned a kill to give Winnipeg the 25-20 win.

The third set was pretty much a reversal of the second as Winnipeg had the lead for much of the set and possessed a 22-17 edge before TWU responded. With a 7-2 Spartans run that included Sclater’s serving sub ace, the Spartans tied the set 24-24. Then, with the score 25-25, a kill from Marshall followed by a Wesmen attacking error completed the Spartans comeback, with TWU winning 27-25.

The fourth set was back and forth the entire way with neither team taking more than a three-point lead. With the score knotted 21-21, Winnipeg scored three in a row to have a chance at set point. The Spartans made things interesting by getting within one late, at 24-23, but a TWU serving error gave the Wesmen the win.

In the fifth set, the Spartans imposed their will early and dominated throughout, hitting .800 as a team and collecting four blocks. A kill from Marshall earned TWU the set and the match.

Game Notes: TWU had a 14.5 to 8 edge in blocks…TWU had a 7-6 advantage in aces…TWU is now 4-1 all-time in quarter-final series against Winnipeg.