Spartans rally falls short as TWU suffers first loss of the year

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November 16, 2013, CALGARY (ISN) – The No.1 Trinity Western men’s volleyball team rallied from two sets down to force a fifth set against Calgary, but couldn’t complete the comeback as the Dinos became the first team to beat the Spartans all year, winning 3-2 (25-21, 25-15, 22-25, 20-25, 16-14) Saturday at Jack Simpson Gymnasium.

After rallying from two sets down, the Spartans looked like they would complete the comeback as they held a 14-10 lead in the fifth set and were serving for the match. But a kill from Calgary’s Darcee Froese sparked a monster comeback for the Dinos. A Calgary ace, followed by a TWU attack error made it a 14-13 game. Another TWU attack error tied the set at 14 and then kills from Greg Mann and Froese gave Calgary its fifth and sixth points in a row as they knocked off the previously undefeated Spartans.

The loss drops the Spartans to 7-1 on the year while the win improves Calgary to 5-3.

Froese scored a game-high 17 kills in the match and dug up 11 balls to lead the way for the Dinos. Connor Frehlich followed that up with 14 kills and Mann added another 13 for Calgary. Mann’s 19 digs was also a game-high. Setter Alex Cook picked up a game-high 48 assists.

For the Spartans, Ryan Sclater (Port Coquitlam, B.C.) accumulated a career-high 16 kills and nine digs while Brad Kufske (Abbotsford, B.C.) added another 13. Libero Tyler Koslowsky (Abbotsford, B.C.) had a team-high 10 digs for TWU. Sclater’s previous career-high was 12, which her collected earlier this year in TWU’s second match against UBC.

“This was a tough one tonight,” said Spartans coach Ben Josephson. “Full credit to our opponents. They were great. They served us into trouble and we couldn’t match their service pressure. They defended the ball great and we had a hard time playing with the same amount of passion that they did. Now we have to evaluate how to get better for next weekend.

“I thought we did enough to adapt and get back into the game. For that, we had some positives. But exceptional teams finish. We want to be an exceptional team and we didn’t finish. That means the pursuit of being exceptional continues.”

In the first set of the match, it was the Dinos who took the first significant lead when they went up 10-7. Despite that, they let it slip away to the top ranked team in the country with an ace from Nick Del Bianco (Surrey, B.C.). From there, the Dinos rallied and never looked back as they went on a 4-0 run to lead at the technical timeout 16-12 thanks to a tool from Mann. From there, the Spartans looked flat while the Dinos prevailed, going on to win the first one 25-21 with a kills from Frehlich.

The second set saw the Dinos continuing to gel as they looked good from the start, forcing TWU to take a timeout at 9-3. Firing on all cylinders, Calgary grew their lead with a number of hitters contributing on offence. At the technical, the Dinos led 16-8, and from there they went on to win the second set 25-15. This marked the first time this season that a team has taken two sets off of the Spartans as well as the biggest point gap Trinity Western has lost by so far.

In the third, Calgary earned themselves a three-point lead early on and held it all the way up until 15-12. At that point, the Spartans called a timeout and from there went on a 4-0 run to lead at the technical by one. The Dinos were unable to respond to TWU taking the lead and despite their best efforts to end the match in three, the Spartans forced a fourth set, winning it 25-22.

The set was close throughout the beginning of the fourth until the Spartans began to run away with it after the technical timeout. Connecting on offence, TWU locked up the fourth set to force a fifth when they won it 25-20.

Two kills from Frehlich gave the Dinos a 6-4 lead early in the fifth, but two quick points from TWU tied it up at six. The Spartans headed into switch up 8-7 and from there went on to hold the lead until 11-9. It took until 14-10 for the Dinos to put some points back on the board but when they finally got the ball back, Mann was at the line to serve to keep the Dinos alive.

His float serve proved to be troublesome for the Spartans. Despite TWU calling a timeout at 14-13, the Dinos went on what would become a 6-0 run to earn the win 16-14.

The Spartans will host the Regina Cougars next weekend while Calgary will take on the No. 5 UBC Thunderbirds when they head to Vancouver.