LANGLEY, British Columbia – It was a three-set win for the No. 1-ranked Spartans, but the match was far from a blowout as Trinity Western eked out all three sets to win 25-22, 25-23, 25-23 over No. 9 Winnipeg in Game 1 of the Canada West Quarter-Finals Thursday at the Langley Events Centre.
With both teams’ offences clicking – TWU hit .415 and Winnipeg hit .300 – the Spartans edged the Wesmen late in all three sets thanks in large part to the play of Blake Scheerhoorn (Belleville, Ont.) and Ryan Sclater (Port Coquitlam, B.C.).
Scheerhoorn finished the match hitting .452 and collecting 16 kills, while Sclater hit .500 and had 11 kills.
The Wesmen were led by Casey Schouten, who had 10 kills and David Bommersbach, who had nine kills and hit .529.
Guiding the dueling offences were setters Adam Schriemer (Winnipeg), who had 36 assists, and the Wesmen’s Mikael Glegg, who had 34 assists.
“That’s your classic playoff match,” said Spartans coach Ben Josephson. “It was clean at times and then it got gross and then it got clean and then it got gross and that’s just a couple of teams figuring each other out and adjusting. We know each other so well at this stage in the season and they’re so well-coached that they just kept adapting to things and then we’d adapt and that went back and forth. I don’t think either team served very well, which took a lot of the flow from either team but I also think that’s a sign of respect for each other’s offences.”
TWU had seven blocks to Winnipeg’s 3.5. The Wesmen had a 5-4 edge in aces.
The Spartans are now 9-1 on home court all-time against Winnipeg in the playoffs and 10-3 overall in the post-season.
Game 2 is Friday at 8:30 p.m. (PT) at the LEC.
“Tonight was a volleyball win but not a playoff win,” Josephson said. “I do not think volleyball will have anything to do with tomorrow’s game. It’ll be 100 per cent guts, toughness, mental toughness, fatigue management – you name it. The team that wants it tomorrow is going to win. I don’t think it’s going to be a volleyball game. I think it’s going to be a good old-fashioned street fight.”
Hitting .625 as a team, the Spartans got past the Wesmen, who hit .333, in the opening set by three points. Scheerhoorn had six kills for a Spartans side that had 16 kills and just one attacking error. Garrett Jones and Brendan Thielmann had four kills each for Winnipeg. With the score tied 21-21, the Spartans ended the set with a 4-1 run, including two kills from Scheerhoorn and one from Sclater, to take the set.
The second set was another tight one as the teams were tied 22-22 before TWU scored three of the final four points to win the set. Scheerhoorn ripped his fifth kill of the set to give the Spartans the win. Through two sets, Scheerhoorn had 11 kills without a single attacking error. In a set that featured 14 tie scores and seven lead changes, the Wesmen’s Schouten led the way offensively for Winnipeg with four kills. TWU, who had four blocks in the set, hit .321 while Winnipeg hit .273.
In the third set, the Spartans appeared primed to win by their biggest margin of the night after taking a 23-18 lead. But with Schouten at the serving line, the Wesmen scored four straight points to close within one point. However, a Winnipeg attacking error set up match-point for TWU and after Winnipeg got one point back, a Pearce Eshenko (Banff, Alta.) kill sealed the win.
Game Notes: Including regular season and playoff matches, TWU is 24-3 all-time on home court against Winnipeg…the last time the Spartans and Wesmen played each other in the postseason was in 2012-13, when TWU won 3-0 and 3-2 to earn the series sweep…the teams split their weekend series this year in Winnipeg.