No. 3 Spartans knock off No. 1 Alberta

trinity western_spartans1

November 8, 2013, LANGLEY, British Columbia (ISN) – On the strength of 24 kills from Nick Del Bianco (Surrey, B.C.), the No. 3 Trinity Western men’s volleyball knocked off No. 1 Alberta 3-1 (25-18, 25-19, 21-25, 25-21) Friday at the Langley Events Centre.

In a battle of unbeatens, the Spartans improved to 5-0 on the season thanks to a .387 hitting percentage and 11 blocks. The Golden Bears, who dropped to 4-1, finished with a .182 hitting percentage and just four team blocks.

Back-to-back aces from Brandon Schmidt, (Winton, Alta.) to open the match set the tone early on and the Spartans were nearly flawless in a first set in which they hit .619. After that, it was much more of see-saw battle, but the Spartans made just 11 attacking errors all night, compared to 24 for Alberta, and, with that, the home side nabbed a well-deserved four-set win.

The Spartans have now won five of the last seven regular season matches between these two teams. Trinity Western has also now won four straight matches against Alberta at the LEC, dating back to 2009-10, when Alberta earned a weekend sweep. The rematch is set for Saturday at 7 p.m. at the LEC.

First-year setter Adam Schriemer (Winnipeg) led that Spartans with 44 assists as he guided an offence that saw Brad Kufske (Abbotsford, B.C.) collect 12 kills and Lucas Van Berkel (Edmonton) and Schmidt earn seven kills each. Schmidt, who hit .700 on the night, also had a match-high six blocks while Van Berkel had five. Libero Tyler Koslowsky (Abbotsford, B.C.) had a match-high 14 digs. Del Bianco’s 24 kills was two off his career-high of 26.

Alberta was led by Ryley Barnes, who had 10 kills while Ryan Nickifor added eight kills and Jay Olmstead had seven. Fifth-year setter Jarron Mueller played the first two sets and collected 17 assists, but was replaced to start the third set by second-year Brett Walsh, who finished with 20 assists.

“It was a great volleyball game and you can see why we’re both considered two of the better teams in the country,” said Spartans coach Ben Josephson. “I thought our boys played really sharp and really efficient and I thought Alberta showed its ability as the match went on. They figured us out and took a few things away and the last two sets were just slugfests. We got the benefit of the home crowd and we were so sharp out of the gate. We got off to a hot start and after that it settled into an awesome volleyball game.”

“Without a doubt, that was the best match we’ve played all year. We hit .387 against a fantastic block defence team. To do that, you need very good setting – and Adam did that – you need fantastic passing and then you need to hit yourself out of trouble, which our hitters did.”

The Spartans Schmidt got TWU rolling early and, with the crowd behind them, Josephson’s team was not going to be stopped in the first set. The Spartans had 14 kills and one error on 21 attempts and added three aces as they rolled to a 25-18 win.

“That first set was the best set that I’ve seen us play against a great opponent in a long time,” Josephson said.

In the second set, the Spartans held an edge throughout and, after a Del Bianco kill, went up 15-11. The Bears fought back and a Mueller kill got Alberta to within one at 17-16. But two straight points from TWU, including another kill from Del Bianco, made it 19-16. From there, the Spartans ran away with the set, winning by six.

Through two sets, TWU had three attacking errors to Alberta’s 12.

The Bears responded in the third set and with the score tied 18-18, Alberta scored two straight points – the second coming on a Matt McCreary block – and took the lead for good. A kill by Walsh gave the Bears a four-point win and forced a fourth set.

However, TWU was fought right back. In the fourth set, it was close throughout, but with TWU up 18-17, a Del Bianco kill made it 19-17 and after that, Alberta didn’t get any closer than two points. A Del Bianco kill sealed the win for TWU.

Game Notes: TWU had four aces to Alberta’s two…TWU had a 38-35 edge in digs.