by Mark Janzen
January 8, 2014, LANGLEY, British Columbia (ISN) – For the first time since Mount Royal entered the CIS in 2012, the No.1 Trinity Western men’s volleyball team will host the Cougars at the Langley Events Centre, with the teams squaring off Friday at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 7 p.m.
Both matches will be streamed live at twu.canadawest.tv.
Both the Spartans (11-1) and the Cougars (6-6) will be enter the weekend series after nearly six weeks off, having last played Nov. 29-30.
TRINITY WESTERN SPARTANS (11-1)
- CIS ranking: No. 1
- Canada West standings: 1st
- Last weekend: Manitoba 3-2 W, 3-0 W
- Streak: 4 wins
Canada West Stats
- Hitting Percentage: .310 (1st)
- Opponent Hitting Percentage: .144 (1st)
- Assists: 11.91/set (3rd)
- Kills: 12.75/set (3rd)
- Blocks: 2.99/set (1st)
- Aces: 1.41/set (2nd)
- Digs: 9.95/set (5th)
The Spartans enter this weekend having played only two five-set matches all year – a loss to Calgary, which was their only setback of the first semester, and a win over Manitoba in their final match before Christmas. All told, TWU only dropped nine sets in its first 12 matches.
TWU is a perfect 5-0 at home this year and along the way has only lost two sets at the Langley Events Centre. Including the playoffs, the Spartans have won nine straight matches at the LEC dating back to last season. Prior to a three-game losing streak last January, TWU had won 26 straight matches on home court.
PLAYING THE PERCENTAGES
The Spartans lead Canada West in both hitting percentage, at .310, and opponent hitting percentage, at .144. TWU’s most efficient offensive night this year came against Regina on Nov. 22, when the Spartans hit .421 as a team. Defensively, TWU’s best match came Nov. 23 against Regina when it held the Cougars to a -.014 hitting percentage.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Adam Schriemer – The first-year setter started eight of TWU’s 12 matches in the fall and averaged 9.57 assist per set in the matches he started. In TWU’s last match of the fall semester, he collected 41 assists in a five-set win.
Lucas Van Berkel – The Spartans fifth-year middle had a career-high 16 kills in TWU’s last match against Manitoba. In his final year at the university level, he is leading Canada West in blocks with 1.52/set and is second in hitting percentage at .434.
Nick Del Bianco – The Spartans go-to hitter on the outside is fourth in the conference in points with 4.50/set, tied for third in aces with 0.41/set and is sixth in kills with 3.68/set.
MOUNT ROYAL COUGARS (6-6)
- CIS ranking: NR
- Canada West standings: 7th
- Last weekend: Thompson Rivers 3-0 L, 3-0 L
- Streak: 4 losses
Canada West Stats
- Hitting Percentage: .257 (5th)
- Opponent Hitting Percentage: .218 (3rd)
- Assists: 11.52/set (11th)
- Kills: 11.43/set (11th)
- Blocks: 2.36/set (3rd)
- Aces: 1.20/set (6th)
- Digs: 9.41/set (10th)
The Cougars will walk into the Langley Events Centre for the first time since joining the CIS and will look to do what only Manitoba and Brandon have done over the past three years: beat TWU on home court. The Cougars are also looking for their first ever win over TWU, having lost both regular season matches last year and one preseason game this year.
POSITIVES FROM PRESEASON
In their lone meeting with the Spartans in the preseason, the Cougars did well to force TWU to a fifth set, before ultimately losing 15-13 in the final frame. Playing with its starters for the first three sets, MRU led 2-1 heading into the fourth set, but with its bench on the floor for the final two sets, the Cougars lost the match following a tight fifth set.
After opening the year with a 6-2 record, the Cougars lost their final four matches of the year and didn’t win a single set along the way. And for MRU, the schedule doesn’t get any easier as the Cougars will play teams currently ranked in the CIS Top 10 in each of its final five weekends.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Colton deMan – The fifth-year outside, who was a Canada West All-Star last year, is third in the conference in points with 5.08/set, third in kills with 4.48/set and tied for sixth in aces with 0.33/set. In his last match, he collected 18 kills and had a season-high .533 attacking percentage.
Grigor Kartev – The 7-foot-1 middle from Calais, France certainly stands out as he towers a full seven inches above his tallest teammate. He’s sixth in the conference in blocks with 1.11/set and has a total of 40 blocks.
Jordan Parkin – After deMan, Parkin has been the Cougars best outside hitter. He is averaging 2.61 kills/set. Over his last four matches against Brandon and TRU, he averaged 3.08 kills/set.