EDMONTON –The No. 1 Trinity Western Spartans had a convincing straight sets win over the No 4 ranked Alberta Golden Bears Saturday night at Saville Community Sports Centre. The 25-15, 26-24, 25-14 improves the Spartans to 16-2, while the loss drops the Bears to 13-3.
“The guys played great tonight. We had much better reception and our serving game was back to what we have seen a lot of this year. It was a really nice response for game for us. We got the tough road split in a very tough gym,” commented TWU head coach Ben Josephson. “I always like playing them as they make us better and I would like to think that we do the same. I think we saw the best version of our team tonight and hopefully we can go back to work and get better for next week.”
Fifth-year Golden Bears setter Brett Walsh set the new Canada West record with his 3,655th career assist, early in the first set. Walsh passed former Winnipeg Wesmen Dustin Addison-Schnieder, who set the previous mark with 3,654 back in 2008.
The Golden Bears, however, couldn’t find their offensive rhythm on Saturday, finishing with just 27 kills on 75 attempts. Ryan Nickifor led the Bears with just nine kills on 21 attempts, finishing the night with a lower-than-average 0.095 hit percentage. Walsh himself ended the night with just 26 assists, while TWU setter Adam Schriemer racked up 37 in three sets.
Trinity Western’s fifth year outside hitter Ryan Sclater also had a historic night as he finished with a game-high 13 kills on 22 total attempts. With his final kill of the night, to win second set, Sclater passed TWU’s Steven Rogalsky for the Spartan lead in career kills. Sclater now sits in 11th overall in Canada West with 1082, while Rogalski (’08) had 1081. With six matches remaining Sclater, with 70 more kills, could move into the top six all-time in Canada West history.
Coming off a hard-fought four set loss the previous night, the Spartans opened the rubber match firing on all cylinders, racing out to a quick 17-10 lead in the opening set. The Bears, who were coming off a strong offensive game of their own, struggled with just a 0.167 first set hit percent, finishing with five attack errors to just eight total kills.
The second set was much closer, but the visiting Spartans still came away with a tight 26-24 set win. Sclater took complete control for the Spartans in the second, ripping in eight of his 13 kills in the middle frame. Nickifor also picked up his game in the second, but his six kills on nine attempts weren’t enough to give the Bears a set win.
The Spartans proved to be too much for Alberta in the third set, absolutely dominating their Western Canadian foe 25-14. Blake Scheerhoorn and Eric Loeppky combined for seven kills in the set for TWU, while common up with a pair of stuff blocks. After trading points early in the third, the Spartans used a 14-4 run to take complete control of, and winning the final set.
TWU setter Adam Schriemer led the Spartans with 37 set assists.
The straight sets loss is the first for the Golden Bears since last year’s Canada West semi-final, which also came against the Trinity Western Spartans in Edmonton. The last time in conference play was back in 2013 against the Thompson Rivers WolfPack, also at home.
The Golden Bears will look to get back on track next weekend, as they welcome the Mount Royal Cougars to Saville Community Sports Centre. The Spartans, meanwhile, return home for a set against the Brandon Bobcats.
Game Notes: The Spartans were dominant on the attack. TWU finished at .347 (38-13-72), while Alberta finished at .080 (27-21-75) … The Spartans had nine blocks, while the Bears finished with five…TWU had the edge in service aces 9-3…and unlike last night’s 26 service errors, the Spartans only committed 10 service errors to Alberta’s seven… With four aces tonight TWU’s Aaron Boettcher now has 35 service aces in the season. He now only trails TWU’s Josh Howatson (05-06) and Nick Del Bianco (14-15) at 42 for the most service aces in a season…the Canada West record is 55 and is held by Saskatchewan’s Adam Ens (03-04) … the Spartans have six conference matches remaining in the season…