LANGLEY, British Columbia – With left side Nick Del Bianco (Surrey, B.C.) returning from injury after missing the last five matches, the Spartans star fifth-year led Trinity Western’s men’s volleyball team to a 3-2 (26-24, 25-19, 23-25, 19-25, 15-7) win Friday at the Langley Events Centre.
The first two sets went the Spartans way, however Manitoba answered back with a pair of wins of their own before the Spartans hammered out the fifth and final set to claim the game.
Del Bianco’s presence in the game was obvious as he led TWU in kills with 21 and was instrumental in the fifth set as he collected five kills, including the Spartans final two points. Del Bianco also added 11 digs, four blocks and two aces.
Tyler Koslowsky (Abbotsford, B.C.) had a game-high 17 digs while on the Spartans offensive side, Blake Scheerhoorn (Belleville, Ont.) had 17 kills and one ace and Ryan Sclater (Port Coquitlam, B.C.) had 15 kills. The Spartan defense was led by Branden Schmidt (De Winton, Alta.) who put up a total of eight blocks, while also making seven kills and an ace. Setter Scott Plocktis (Kelowna, B.C.) had 54 assists.
For the Bisons it was Devren Dear who led the team. Dear had a match-high 27 kills as well as a team-high 13 digs. Adam DeJonckheere was second on the Bisons with 15 kills. Setter Luke Herr had a match-high 55 assists.
Dating back to the 2012 Canada West gold medal match, five of the last six times these two teams played, the match has gone to five sets.
“Five sets is just what they do, they don’t go away,” said Spartans coach Ben Josephson. “You think you’re playing fine and you look up and they’re one or two points back. That’s just what they do, they don’t get rattled and they make plays. Number four (Devren Dear) is a third year now and he’s really developed well and number eight (DeJonckheere) is a junior national kid. Garth (Pischke, head coach) has won the most games in volleyball North America. There’s a reason for it, if you have him on your bench, you’re calm.”
The first set began with both teams at full intensity. It was the Spartans though that established the early lead. Manitoba managed to work its way back from the deficit though, coming back midway through the set and driving the score to a tight one point difference. The two teams were tied at 24-24 before the Spartans came back swinging and claimed the set 26-24. Del Bianco had five kills for the Spartans during the set, while Scheerhoorn offered up four. TWU hit .424 during the set, coming in above Manitoba who had .360.
The Spartans were up early on in the second set, once again putting a decent distance between them and the Bisons. Much like the first set however, Manitoba came back and evened the score. After getting a leg back up, TWU pulled ahead 23-19, before claiming the match 25-19 following a Manitoba serving error. During the set, the Spartans added 5.5 more blocks to their total, while the Bisons added 4. Scheerhoorn hit another five kills while both Del Bianco and Sclater had three. Schmidt blocked five of the Bisons attempts.
The tides seemed as if they’d changed in the third set, as Manitoba began by tallying the first few points against the Spartans. The scoring against TWU continued until midway through the set, when the Spartans were able to move into the lead 16-15. The one-point lead didn’t last long however, as the Bisons came back and took back the lead. Manitoba finished the set quickly after that, 25-23. Each team only gained one block during the set. Del Bianco and Sclater each added five more kills to the Spartans total.
The fourth set shaped up much like the others, with TWU and Manitoba proving to be well-matched opponents. The two teams stayed tight in scoring, keeping each other within two points throughout the first half of the set. Manitoba kicked it up a gear in the last half of the set however, using its momentum to drive the score up in its favor before claiming the set 25-19. Both teams earned two blocks in the set. Scheerhoorn hit four kills, while Sclater and Del Bianco both had three.
In the fifth set, TWU got the lead and quickly drove up the score, keeping Manitoba well behind them. TWU didn’t let up until their goal was accomplished, hitting .733 in the final set and winning 15-7. Del Bianco made his return even sweeter by finishing off the night with the game-winning kill. In addition to the game winner, Del Bianco hit four other kills. Scheerhoorn tallied three more kills as well as a service ace.
“In the third and fourth set we got lulled into playing a bit of their game, and they out scrapped us,” Josephson said. “In the fifth set, Nick Del Bianco did what he does. Nick raised this game in the fifth set; otherwise I don’t think we did anything different. Scotty (Plocktis) was smart and gave him the ball. Branden (Schmidt) had a great serving game. Statistically the difference was, the first two sets we served them into trouble and we had a lot of result on blocking and they didn’t hit as well. In the fourth set they passed well and their efficiency went through the roof. In the fifth set again we had a bunch of awesome serves.”
The two teams will meet in a rematch Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Langley Events Centre.
Game Notes: TWU had 9.5 blocks to Manitoba’s nine…TWU had a 6-5 edge in aces…it was setter Plocktis’ first start of the season.