LANGLEY, British Columbia – After a pair of losses to No. 1 Alberta last weekend on the road, the No. 2 Trinity Western men’s volleyball team returns home this Friday and Saturday aiming to get back in the win column when it hosts Manitoba at the Langley Events Centre.
The Spartans (4-2) lost in five on Friday and in four on Saturday, but remained second in the CIS Top 10.
When TWU and Manitoba played last year, the Spartans won 3-2 and 3-0 to earn a regular season weekend sweep on the road.
Friday’s contest against the Bisons (5-1) is at 8 p.m. and Saturday’s is at 6 p.m. Both matches can be seen live on www.canadawest.tv.
TRINITY WESTERN SPARTANS (4-2)
CIS ranking: No. 2
Canada West Standings: 5th (tied)
Last weekend: Alberta 3-2 L, 3-1 L
Streak: 2 losses
2013-14 Canada West Record: 20-2 (1st)
2013-14 Canada West Tournament: 1-1 (2nd)
2013-14 CIS Tournament: 2-1 (5th)
The Spartans opened the regular season with four straight wins, but then came up against the top team in the country as they took on Alberta on the road. After TWU won the first two sets of the first match, the Golden Bears responded by winning six of the next seven sets to earn the weekend sweep.
TWU is back at home following two straight weeks on the road and is looking to bounce right back and get back on the winning track.
BLOCKING OUT THE SUN
Through their first six matches, the Spartans blocking game has been impressive as they have averaged 2.76 blocks per set, which has them second in Canada West. Against Alberta, TWU collected 30.5 blocks over the course of the weekend, averaging nearly 3.4 blocks per set. Daniel Grant (Chetwynd, B.C.) leads the Spartans and is second in the conference with 1.43 blocks per set.
Fourth-year libero Tyler Koslowsky (Abbotsford, B.C.) has been dynamite defensively for the Spartans, averaging a league-leading 2.87 digs per set. Koslowsky has hit double digits in digs in each of TWU’s last four games, averaging 3.25 digs per set over that span. Last year, Koslowsky finished the season third in Canada West with 2.56 digs per set.
BALANCING THE OFFENCE
With the absence of Nick Del Bianco (Surrey, B.C.), who has played in just one match this year due to injury, the Spartans have seven other players averaging at least one kill per set. Ryan Sclater (Port Coquitlam, B.C.) leads the way with 3.22 kills per set while Blake Scheerhoorn (Belleville, Ont.) is averaging 2.83 kills per set.
MANITOBA BISONS (5-1)
CIS ranking: NR
Pacific Division Standings: 2nd (tied)
Last weekend: UBC Okanagan 3-0 W, 3-1 W
Streak: 4 wins
2013-14 Regular Season Record: 10-12 (8th)
2013-14 Playoff Record: N/
2013-14 CW Tournament Placing: N/A
With head coach Garth Pischke back in the fold after a year away, the Bisons have got off to a quick start, having won five of their first six matches. Coming off of wins over Regina, two weeks ago, and Calgary, last weekend, Manitoba has won 12 of its last 13 sets.
KEN BE EFFICIENT
Middle blocker Ken Rooney has been amongst the most efficient players in Canada West so far this year, hitting .461 through six matches, which has him third in the conference. Last year, Rooney hit .390 over the course of the season. In the Bisons season-opener, Rooney had a season’s best .706 hitting percentage as he had 12 kills without a single error on 17 attempts against Calgary.
WINNING IN LANGLEY
The last time Manitoba was in Langley, the Bisons did something few teams are able to do – beat the Spartans twice on home court. In 2012-13, Manitoba beat the Spartans in five sets on back-to-back nights to extend the Spartans home losing streak at the time to a nearly unheard-of three matches. Since 2010, the Bisons are one of only two teams to sweep TWU at home. Calgary also beat TWU twice in the spring of 2011 on home court.
ANOTHER MAJOR TEST
This weekend’s matches against TWU will be the Bisons second major test against a CIS ranked opponent, but their first against a team that has been ranked in the top five. The Bisons split with now No. 7 Calgary to open the season, but since then have played only winless Regina and UBC Okanagan. Manitoba will be in tough this weekend, but a win or, more impressively, a weekend sweep would vault the Bisons immediately onto the national map.