LANGLEY, British Columbia – Fifth-year Ryan Sclater (Port Coquitlam, B.C.) had 22 kills as he led the No. 2 Spartans to a 3-2 (23-25, 25-20, 25-13, 19-25, 15-10) win over No. 4 Calgary in Trinity Western’s home-opener Friday at the Langley Events Centre.
In the fifth set, the Spartans opened up an 8-4 lead at the turn and then ran away with the set, holding off the Dinos for a five-point win. TWU hit .429 in the final set while Calgary struggled to find its rhythm, hitting.000.
However, while the fifth set went TWU’s way in decisive fashion, it was a back and forth contest throughout in what was a rematch of last year’s Canada West quarter-final series that saw the Spartans win on Calgary’s home court.
“That’s a Canada West battle,” said Spartans coach Ben Josephson. “Nobody goes down easy and it’s hard to beat teams in this league, especially ones that are as proud and as good as they are. They had a great plan to start and we didn’t handle it well. We responded well and then they adjusted back and then the fifth set was a grind. The first team to get on a run wins.”
Beyond Sclater, it was TWU’s Scott Plocktis (Kelowna, B.C.) and Ben Lieuwen (Abbotsford, B.C.) contributing offensively with eight kills each. Lieuwen also had five aces. Carter Bergen (Winnipeg) had a match-high 15 digs, while Aaron Boettcher (Surrey, B.C.) had a match-high six blocks.
Calgary’s Curtis Stockton had 11 kills while Keith West had 10. Sean Martin had five blocks.
The evening started with TWU raising its Canada West and CIS championship banners from 2015-16.
“I thought we passed the ball pretty well,” Josephson said. “I thought our defensive intensity was appropriate and our block stability was pretty good. I was a really frustrated with our offence. I was really frustrated with transition and I was really frustrated with serving. And the only reason I’m frustrated is because we’ve shown higher levels than that. We’re a lot better in those areas than we showed tonight. There were a lot of distractions tonight, with the banner raising and playing Calgary and it being the home-opener and it was really important for our kids to manage that find a way to win and that was really cool.”
Hitting .381 as a team, Calgary pulled away late in the opening set to take a two-point win in a set that saw 15 tie scores but just one lead change. Seven different Dinos had kills while Lieuwen was the bright spot for TWU as he had five kills and hit .500.
The Spartans took an early lead in the second set and then went up by as much as seven, at 19-12. The Dinos closed the gap to three points, at 23-20, but Leigh Goossen (Kelowna, B.C.) put TWU on set point with a kill before going to the service line himself and dropping an ace for the win. Sclater had six kills without committing an attacking error in the set.
Trailing 4-2 in the third set, the Spartans tallied five straight points, taking the lead and launching a barrage of offence. TWU hit .529 in the set and had only one attacking error, rolling to a 12-point win. Sclater had another five errorless kills to lead TWU.
In the fourth set, the Spartans offence sputtered a bit, hitting .069 while Calgary hit .231 as a team. The Dinos also had a 4-3 edge in blocks and, as a result, cruised to a five-point win. TWU, who put first-year Eric Loeppky (Steinbach, Man.) and Pearce Eshenko (Banff, Alta.) on the floor to start the set, led early, but Calgary took over in the middle stages, with Stockton tallying seven kills in the set to lead the way.
TWU took a 10-4 lead in the fifth set and carried on to the finish line, winning the match on a Dinos serving error.
The two teams will meet again Saturday 7 p.m. (PT) at the LEC.
Game Notes: The last time the Dinos were in Langley for a regular season series, Nov. 28-29, 2014, TWU took both games, winning 3-2 and 3-0…Calgary posted a 6-3 record in preseason against U Sports competition, including wins over No. 3 McMaster, No. 5 Laval and No. 8 Mount Royal…prior to the game, the Spartans raised their Canada West and CIS championship banners from 2015-16.